Anti e-toll crusader to tackle tax abuse in South Africa

Civil action group, Outa, is shifting its focus from e-tolls to tackle another area of South Africa that harms civil society at large: tax abuse.

The group – known as the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance – said it is not abandoning the e-toll battle, but is rather broadening its mandate.

“During our work on the e-toll challenge over the past few years, we have often been asked by the public and other organisations to consider taking action on matters of a similar nature,” the group said.

“As one can imagine, our country has no shortage of issues that require challenging in this regard.”

In that line, the group has selected tax abuse as its headline focus, changing its name to the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse – keeping its acronym intact.

Speaking to Business Day TV, Outa head Wayne Duvenage said that many of South Africa’s taxes are being misused and “disappearing in to a hole”.

Duvenage mentioned several taxes which have little to show for themselves – specifically the “plastic bag tax”.

Other taxes which the group will focus on are the carbon tax, tyre recycling tax, waste tax and many others.

“We want to make sure that the taxes are just, rational and not wasteful…not disappearing down a hole,” Duvenage said.

“We see this tax pot, and more and more taxes go in at the top, but the bucket is leaking – badly – and nothing is happening. We need to plug those holes. We need to deal with corruption.”

As part of its new mandate – which is still in the early stages of development – Outa plans to inform the South African public with a list of taxes they pay.

It will then implement a “three-prong approach” to tackling tax issues:

Confronting the way tax policies are being set up. Notably, the group believes that tax policies are not designed to be effective in the outcomes they seek to achieve (as was the case with e-tolls).

Focusing on legislation surrounding the enforcement mechanisms, where legislation is being undemocratically amended to force tax policies, making them unworkable and often unenforceable.

The final focus will be on conduct – combating wasteful expenditure and corruption, and holding people in positions of authority to account.

According to Duvenage, once the group’s new mandate is in full swing, it will detail a “pragmatic five step approach” that will be used to take this task on.

“We believe that Government and members of the public service who are serious about reducing corruption and maladministration, will or should embrace organisations such as Outa, as we are on the same side of Team South Africa,” the group said.

“Those who feel otherwise and who blatantly self enrich or are responsible for the waste of our nations taxes, may just feel the heat of the new Outa in time to come.”

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Anti e-toll crusader to tackle tax abuse in South Africa