SARS wants a closer look at the ‘R400 billion’ South Africans have stashed overseas

South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Edward Kieswetter has outlined the tax collector’s decision to target an estimated R400 billion stashed in accounts overseas.

In an interview with eNCA, Kieswetter said that South Africa has an automatic exchange of information protocol with about 160 countries – with actual data received from 87 countries.

“From those countries, we have become aware that we have around 1.38 million reportable records that we have received for the reporting period 2019.

“(These records) indicate to us that there is an amount of about R26.6 billion held in offshore accounts only from these 87 countries. That’s how we get to the amount of well over R400 billion – it’s a simple translation, depending on the exchange rate on the day.”

Kieswetter clarified that the actual amount of offshore money could be larger and that not all of this money was taken out of the country irregularly or unlawfully. He added that not all of the money needs to be disclosed for tax purposes.

“What we are saying to South Africans is that if you have taken money offshore, make sure you have disclosed it, because we have opened a window for taxpayers to come to us through a special voluntary disclosure programme.”

Presenting on SARS’ latest revenue collections this week, Kieswetter said that the tax collector has also profiled a number of high-net-worth individuals in the country who enjoy a ‘luxurious’ lifestyle and demonstrate unexplained wealth when compared to their income.

He said that SARS has the ability to access a number of databases that track high-ticket items, such as luxury cars and expensive property.

The commissioner said that SARS has the ability to access a number of databases that track high-ticket items, such as luxury cars and expensive property. The revenue collector then does capital reconciliation back to the income statement, he said.

Kieswetter said that it is often the case that more information can be established from the assets and liabilities of these wealthy individuals, as opposed to the income and expenses that they declare.

He added that in certain cases, a civil investigation into an individual who is undeclaring an income, turns into a criminal investigation as the person’s illicit dealings become clear.


Read: South Africa is sitting with R42 billion in unclaimed pensions – here’s how to search if you are a beneficiary

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SARS wants a closer look at the ‘R400 billion’ South Africans have stashed overseas