SARS boss’ message to taxpayers in South Africa: We will only ask nicely the first time

South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Edward Kieswetter says that most taxpayers are honest and just want to get their tax affairs out of the way – however, there are always those who refuse to play ball.

Kieswetter told 702 that SARS data shows increasing ‘tax morality’ in the country, with this slowly translating to increased tax compliance.

He pointed to the revenue collectors’ better than expected results for 2020, which he attributed to a better economy in combination with improved revenue from compliance activities of more than 30%.

The commissioner said that this is being done through a combination of SARS building greater confidence in the public but also a very active and focused compliance programme.

He said that if someone has not submitted a return then SARS will prompt them ‘gently’.

“Our engagement will always be friendly initially, and if you persist then we will obviously use the other instruments in law that is available to us.”

Kieswetter said that it was also important to have tools to move on taxpayers that simply refuse to play ball.

“There will always be those, that whatever we present to them or however easy you make it, are pathological criminals. In this area we need to increase and step up our game, here we still have a lot to work to do, and it is too early to declare victory.”

Kieswetter said more announcements would be made around SARS’ efforts to target these non-compliant taxpayers in the coming months.

Tax season opens

SARS  has announced the opening of the filing season for individual taxpayers which will run from 1 July – 23 November.

The revenue collector has encouraged taxpayers to file online but said that taxpayers who cannot file online can do so physically at a SARS branch by appointment only, as it has temporarily closed its physical branches due to concerns around the third wave of Covid-19 infections currently impacting the country.

It said that the temporary closure of the tax branches will not affect the start of the filing season for individuals who traditionally file via eFiling or the SARS MobiApp.

These taxpayers are encouraged to continue doing so digitally, starting from 1 July 2021, it said. However, branch filing will not commence on this date.

“At this stage, we plan to commence physical branch visits on 16 August 2021 but will review this continuously. Taxpayers are advised not to come to a SARS branch. The branches will be closed until an announcement is made confirming the reopening date.”

During the branch closures, taxpayers who require assistance to file online will be assisted telephonically with the support of dedicated SARS staff, it said.

Read: South Africa joins other countries in push for a global tax

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SARS boss’ message to taxpayers in South Africa: We will only ask nicely the first time