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Customs modernisation journey and effective tax collection will be a feature of 2014 budget

Thursday, 06 February 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Deloitte
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Author: Deloitte

Steps to further enhance SARS’ ability to extend its reach to a much wider tax base through effective modernisation of the customs environment, could be announced by the Minister of Finance during his Budget speech, says professional services firm Deloitte.

The SARS Customs Modernisation Programme, planned as part of a seven-year process and officially launched in 2009, has been designed to create a platform and capacity within various areas of customs and excise. "Additionally,” says Kayn Woolmer, Senior Manager at Deloitte, "The programme is intended to introduce reforms that will bring SARS’ policies and practices into line with international norms.”

"Since the announcement of the modernisation process, a number of vital changes have been made. Progress has been made with the primary objectives of simplifying and standardising customs procedures for traders, making it easier for them to comply with requirements so that goods can be more efficiently moved internationally, costs reduced and clearance formalities simplified.”

"The positive spin-off for SARS has been the more effective use of resources so that the department’s focus could be moved to post-clearance audits and enforcement activities that enhance tax collection and combat illicit trade.”

Some key achievements of the modernisation process have included:

  • Service improvements through the growth in electronic interaction between traders, agents and Customs; and
  • Introduction of the eFiling, eAccount which allows full account management functionality for traders that extends from accessing customs codes through to payments and account management.

Maintaining the momentum of reforms could therefore see the Minister making further announcements regarding the customs reform initiative. This could see the Minister addressing the implications for traders and SARS that could arise with the promulgation of the Customs Duty and Control Bills Act during the 2014/2015 financial year.

Further reforms to be introduced through the Customs Modernisation Programme could include:

  •  Continued focus on the Preferred Trader Programme designed to provide selected traders with access to SARS relationship managers and enhanced operational benefits;
  • Improved public access and availability to SARS services through:
    • Increased use of mobile devices to improve accessibility to SARS by taxpayers and traders.
    • Increasing the number of SARS mobile offices in geographically remote areas.  
    • Bringing  informal businesses, including immigrant businesses, into the formal sphere in collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs, municipalities, social security services and the Company Intellectual Property Commission; and
    • Continued streamlining of internal processes and procedures and simplification of forms and requirements. 

"Further announcements regarding the streamlining and modernisation of SARS services are to be welcomed when they make compliance easier and enable taxpayers to concentrate on business. Where modernisation of a system is effective, both parties are winners,” says Woolmer.



Section 240A of the Tax Administration Act, 2011 (as amended) requires that all tax practitioners register with a recognized controlling body before 1 July 2013. It is a criminal offense to not register with both a recognized controlling body and SARS.

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