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Tax union 'unworkable'

Wednesday, 06 August 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Olebogeng Molatlhwa
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Author: Olebogeng Molatlhwa (TimesLive) 

Would you join a taxpayers' union that wants to hold the government accountable for corruption?

Johannesburg businessman Dave Harris believes there are sufficient numbers of taxpayers outraged by state corruption to form the union.It is believed that about R30bn a year is squandered or lost to graft.

Harris suggested that "rather than give our taxes to the state, we take the money and put it in an interest-bearing account, or a money market account, but give an undertaking that it will be ceded to [the SA Revenue Service].

But there are several obstacles that threaten to thwart Harris's ambitions, chief among them being the constitution.Constitutional law expert Professor Marinus Wiechers said the idea had merit in that it sought to galvanise taxpayers into forming a pressure group that would hold the government accountable, but the union would not be able to withhold money due to the state.

Wiechers said withholding taxes would have disastrous effects on the state and the economy - and would be illegal."It is an absolutely constitutionally valid move to have civil society stand up and hold the state accountable [but] it is also constitutionally imperative to pay taxes to the state.

"Stiaan Klue, chief executive of the SA Institute of Tax Professionals, said: "A policy to withhold tax from the state is flawed. It's illegal and we cannot support such initiatives."

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