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New SARS head receives thumbs up from tax industry

Thursday, 25 September 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Evan Pickworth
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Author: Evan Pickworth (BDlive)

President Jacob Zuma’s choice of Thomas Moyane as commissioner of the South African Revenue Services (SARS) fills a gaping hole left after Oupa Magashula resigned in the aftermath of a scandal in July last year.

While Mr Moyane is a development economist by training rather than a tax expert, the professional tax industry welcomed his appointment as he is seen as experienced and well connected enough at national level to bring about change. He will have the unenviable task of trying to rebuild trust in SARS following a string of recent scandals.

Deputy SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay took over from Mr Magashula in an acting capacity, but he has never wanted to take on the role full time despite receiving plaudits for the job he has done. Mr Pillay’s contract initially came up for renewal in October last year, but the president failed to announce a full-time commissioner, leaving SARS operating with an acting head for more than a year.

Chief executive of the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners — the largest body of tax professionals in the country — Stiaan Klue said on Tuesday the fact that Mr Moyane had significant experience as a commissioner at national level would be more important than his technical tax skills.

"You actually don’t want a technocrat in this job, but rather someone who can listen. It is good it is someone from the outside — SARS needed new blood and a new broom," he said.


Mr Moyane has served as National Commissioner at the Department of Correctional Services, as chief executive officer for the Government Printing Works, as managing director for Engen Mozambique as well as regional coordinator for the regional spatial development initiatives and as chief director for industry and enterprise development at the department of trade and industry.

"We need SARS to be strong — citizens are looking to it as a model government department we can trust, especially after recent scandals. These things directly affected tax morale," said Mr Klue.

Former commissioner Mr Magashula resigned following an investigation into allegations of impropriety against him.

But a new scandal hits SARS last month after reports surfaced about the alleged affair between one of their enforcement bosses and a lawyer in the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry is being investigated by SARS. While the mudslinging in this case continues, the tax industry has felt this is just another example of bad public relations SARS could ill afford.

"SARS is a vital cornerstone of SA’s fiscal order and security, and Mr Moyane’s vast experience at the highest levels of government and public administration stand him in good stead in ensuring SARS continues to serve the best interests of the South African economy," said Mr Klue.

The South African Institute of Tax Professionals said "a debt of gratitude" was owed to Mr Pillay. "He needs to be commended for the stability and professionalism he instilled within SARS during his tenure as acting commissioner," said Mr Klue.

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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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