SARS is looking at a new taxpayer ID system in South Africa – what you should know

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has published a Request for Information (RFI) for a new ‘biometric solution’ to help identify and authenticate taxpayers.

The revenue collector said that this could include biometric information such as fingerprints and more advanced tools such as facial recognition.

“SARS requires a solution to reliably and securely identify, verify and authenticate taxpayers and SARS officials to control authorised access management to its internal facing and external facing systems.

“It is anticipated that a biometric authentication such as fingerprint verification, facial-, iris- and voice recognition can meet these requirements. This will assist SARS combat fraud and other illicit activities whilst providing an improved and secure user experience to taxpayers.”

While the revenue collector envisages prioritising facial recognition and voice recognition for the first phase of implementation, the solution should include other biometric modes after that.

Security 

SARS said that safeguarding and protecting taxpayer information is of critical importance and that one of the best-known methods to ensure reliable and secure identity verification is the utilisation of biometric forms of verification, such as fingerprint verification, facial, iris and voice recognition.

These can also be combined with other security measures such as passwords and PINs it said.

While SARS has to some extent made previous investments in biometric identity verification, these have been largely tactical and limited to face-to-face transactions where functionality was introduced to do biometric fingerprint verification with the Department of Home Affairs in SARS branches.

“Beyond specific processes, SARS has recognised the importance of person identity verification and authentication across the enterprise. This capability would be leveraged across taxpayer
engagements, whether physical transactions at ports of entry, branch offices or SARS kiosks, or in the digital channels domain.

“Further, it would enable SARS internally to ensure system access is controlled and available to authorised and verified SARS officials only,” it said.


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SARS is looking at a new taxpayer ID system in South Africa – what you should know