Kieswetter sends a warning to taxpayers in South Africa

 ·3 Apr 2024

South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Edward Kieswetter has warned taxpayers to make sure they’re not getting bad tax advice from tax practitioners who are non-compliant in their own field of expertise.

SARS, which posted a record tax year for 2023/24 after coming in R10 billion more than projected, has seen a troubling trend in which many tax practitioners are themselves non-compliant with tax regulations, with their clients equally delinquent.

“We’ve identified 53 tax practitioners who remain non-compliant in their own taxes, which explains, in part, how they advise their clients and why their clients are equally delinquent,” Kieswetter said.

“In one law firm alone, in The Square in Sandton, we found 14 partners of this law firm who underestimated their own provisional taxes.”

SARS has thus started the process of revoking licenses from non-compliant practitioners.

Eight licences have already been revoked, and criminal investigations are underway against others found to be in breach of tax obligations.

Darren Britz and Bronwin Richards from Tax Consulting SA said that Kieswetter’s comments will resonate with those in the industry who consult clients who previously received low-quality and aggressive tax advice, with the new advisor tasked with cleaning up the mess left behind.

“The above observations in future place a lot more focus on firms who promote certain schemes, and taxpayers should take care when they approach tax practitioners,” Kieswetter added.

Britz and Richards said that not all tax professionals operate with integrity and compliance in terms of their personal tax affairs and those of their clients.

“Kieswetter’s observations serve as a sobering reminder of the risks associated with non-compliant tax practitioners. The repercussions of poor-quality, aggressive tax advice can be severe,” the experts said.

“Taxpayers serve well to take heed of Kieswetter’s warning and choose their tax practitioners wisely. Do your due diligence!”

Read: A R28 billion game-changer for South Africa – but government dragging its feet

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