Blocked from tax returns and threats of fines and jail time – SARS warns of new scam

 ·11 Jun 2024

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has issued an alert about a new scam that is making the rounds ahead of tax season 2024, which opens for individual taxpayers next month.

In the scam, fraudsters are posing as SARS, luring taxpayers into a trap with an ‘”Outstanding Tax Payment” notice.

The notice, sent via email, spoofs SARS’ logo and formatting and warns taxpayers that they will be unable to file their tax return for the 2024 tax season until they pay an outstanding amount attached to their tax profiles.

The scammers warn that failing to pay the amount by a certain date will result in fines and penalties and potential “assessments” on a taxpayer’s affairs, which could result in conviction and prison time.

SARS urged taxpayers to ignore the email and report it to its fraud department.

“SARS never provides bank account numbers. If you need to make a payment, only use the official SARS payment channels,” it said.

It also noted that the bank accounts used in the scam are fraudulent bank accounts, and the emails are coming from non-SARS email addresses, such as ‘<[email protected]>’.

“SARS is following up with the relevant banks and authorities,” it said.

In the past few months, fraudulent messages and emails have been circulated as part of typical phishing attempts, but they are trying to gain an advantage over taxpayers by focusing on new topics.

These include:

  • Threats of SARS issuing court summonses against taxpayers
  • Threats of SARS blacklisting taxpayers
  • Threats of SARS issuing stop orders on accounts
  • Notice of correspondence relating to solar
  • Notice of outstanding amounts owed to taxpayers
  • NEW Outstanding payments ahead of tax season 2024

Examples of these scams and more can be seen on SARS’ scams page.

To best protect themselves from such scams, SARS noted that taxpayers should be aware of the following:

  • Do not open or respond to emails from unknown sources.
  • Beware of emails that ask for personal, tax, banking and eFiling details (login credentials, passwords, pins, credit/debit card information, etc.).
  • SARS will never request your banking details in any communication you receive via post, email, or SMS. However, for the purpose of telephonic engagement and authentication, SARS will verify your personal details. Importantly, SARS will not send you hyperlinks to other websites—even those of banks.
  • Beware of false SMSes.
  • SARS does not send *.htm or *.html attachments.
  • SARS will never ask for your credit card details.

Read: New tax dates for trusts in South Africa

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