SARS

22 November 2017 – SARS not opposed to releasing Makwakwa reports

PRETORIA, TUESDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2017 – SARS has noted numerous requests from Parliament, civic organizations and the media to disclose two reports regarding the allegations against Chief Officer: Business & Individual Taxes, Mr Jonas Makwakwa.

In principle, SARS is not opposed to the release of the two reports, namely the report of the internal disciplinary enquiry and the investigation report by law firm Hogan Lovells into these allegations.

In September 2016, the Financial Information Centre (FIC) submitted a report to SARS containing several allegations against Mr Makwakwa.

However, legal provisions of the FIC Act do not allow the disclosure of a South African citizen’s personal information arising from a FIC suspicious report.

In fact, SARS has sought legal guidance on this matter. We have been advised that there could be a legal challenge in the event that SARS releases any of the two reports mentioned above.

It is for this reason that SARS has written to the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Mr Yunus Carrim, requesting him to put together a four-member team to engage on the legal implications of disclosing the reports as requested.

The four-member team being proposed would consist of legal representatives from the National Assembly, National Treasury, FIC and SARS.

We are awaiting the outcome of this request and will take guidance from the outcome.

16 November 2017 – Tax Season – One week left

Pretoria, 16 November 2017 – Non-provisional individual taxpayers have one week left to file their tax returns before Tax Season officially closes for this category of taxpayers on Friday, 24 November 2017. 

Already 5 015 405 tax returns have been received as at 3pm on 15 November 2017.  This includes tax returns received this year and outstanding returns from previous years, that have been submitted during this filing season. 

Provisional taxpayers, who are taxpayers who receive income other than a salary, have until 31 January 2018 to submit their tax returns via eFiling.

Taxpayers are reminded that eFiling is the easiest and quickest way to file one’s tax return and is available 24 hours.  SARS has also made help-you-efile available – a service that immediately connects eFilers to a SARS tax agent while on their own eFiling profile during office hours.

Taxpayers are reminded to ensure that all the necessary supporting documents to substantiate their claims are available – whether filing at a branch or via eFiling.  Such documentation includes:

  • Your banking particulars
  • Your IRP5/IT3(a) certificate(s)
  • Certificates [IT3(b)] that you received for any investment income
  • Details of medical expenses paid by you and not covered by your medical scheme
  • Medical aid certificate for details of medical aid contributions made that do not appear on your IRP5/IT3(a) certificate(s)
  • Completed confirmation of diagnosis of disability form (ITR-DD), if applicable
  • Information about your retirement annuity contributions
  • Details of business travel (if you received a travel allowance or want to claim against a fringe benefit for an employer provided vehicle)
  • Information about foreign tax credits withheld
  • Financial statements, if applicable e.g. business income
  • Any other relevant material relating to income you received or deductions you want to claim.
SARS has noted complaints around refunds and audits.  Taxpayers are reminded of the channels through which they can lodge complaints, namely via SARS eFiling at www.sarsefiling.co.za, a SARS Branch, and the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277.

The contact centre also serves as a first point of call for any taxpayer queries to avoid the taxpayer having to visit a branch.  During high call volumes, taxpayers can use the contact centre call-back function if a taxpayer cannot wait for a SARS tax agent to take their call. 

While branches operate between 08:00 to 16:00 during the week, SARS tax consultants will ensure that all taxpayers are assisted with their tax returns. 

In addition, 21 SARS branches have been selected to operate on Saturdays to serve taxpayers. These branches are: Alberton, Ashlea Gardens, Bellville, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Doringkloof, East London, Edenvale, George, Mitchells Plain, Nelspruit-Mbombela, Paarl, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria North, Richards Bay, Rissik Street, Rustenburg, Soweto, Orlando East, Vereeniging, and Witbank-Emalahleni.

15 November 2017 – SARS busts 15.1kg of crystal/ephedrine worth R4.5-million

PRETORIA, WEDNESDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2017 – SARS Customs officials intercepted a passenger from Lagos, Nigeria arriving from Ethiopia carrying 15.1kg of crystal / ephedrine estimated at R4.530 000  at the OR Tambo International airport yesterday.

The passenger was intercepted with two pieces of check-in luggage that were searched to reveal a whitish rough substance that was concealed at the bottom.

A drug test for Crystal / Ephedrine meth was conducted which tested positive.

The passenger was handed over to the South African Police Service for further investigation.

The successful operation was a result of a joint collaboration involving SARS, SAPS and officials of the Airport Company of South Africa.

15 November 2017 – SARS busts 15.1kg of crystal/ephedrine worth R4.5-million

PRETORIA, WEDNESDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2017 – SARS Customs officials intercepted a passenger from Lagos, Nigeria arriving from Ethiopia carrying 15.1kg of crystal / ephedrine estimated at R4.530 000  at the OR Tambo International airport yesterday.

The passenger was intercepted with two pieces of check-in luggage that were searched to reveal a whitish rough substance that was concealed at the bottom.

A drug test for Crystal / Ephedrine meth was conducted which tested positive.

The passenger was handed over to the South African Police Service for further investigation.

The successful operation was a result of a joint collaboration involving SARS, SAPS and officials of the Airport Company of South Africa.

3 November 2017 – SARS to take criminal action against breach of confidentiality of taxpayer information

PRETORIA, Friday 3 November 2017 – SARS has noted the widespread media reports on the Sunday Times’ lead story, Gangster Republic (29 October) which is an extract from Jacques Pauw’s book, The President’s Keepers – Those keeping Zuma in power and out of prison.

SARS wishes to categorically state that it is deeply concerned about the publication of confidential taxpayer information in contravention of Chapter 6 of the Tax Administration Act (TAA) 28 of 2011, especially Section 69 which prohibits the disclosure of taxpayer information by a SARS official or former SARS official.

Further, Section 69(3) of the TAA prohibits the disclosure of confidential taxpayer information outside judicial processes and in particular an Order of the High Court.

As a result, SARS is duty-bound to address the violation of the TAA by Mr. Jacques Pauw and the unsubstantiated allegation that Commissioner Tom Moyane is aiding President Zuma to avoid his tax obligations.

The premise of the piece hinges on the predictable narrative that the organization cannot fulfil its mandate since the appointment of Commissioner Moyane because he is allegedly using his position to protect the President.

SARS views the publication of confidential taxpayer information through Mr. Pauw’s book and the Sunday Times as unlawful and a criminal offence in terms of Section 236 of the TAA.

Thus SARS is seeking legal advice on what steps to take, including but not limited to criminal and civil investigation against Mr. Pauw and the Sunday Times into the circumstances pertaining to the unlawful disclosure of confidential taxpayer information.

Furthermore, SARS is deeply concerned about the apparent bias, irresponsible and mischievous tone of the report which seeks to cast aspersions on the character of Commissioner Moyane.

The report perpetuates the unfounded narrative that he is involved in efforts to quash President Zuma’s tax liability. This narrative is untruthful, disingenuous and outrightly irresponsible.

SARS wishes to point out that the allegations pertaining to the President Zuma’s tax affairs refer to events that occurred prior to Commissioner Moyane assuming his current position. That fact alone should be more than enough to end such reckless speculation and treacherous narrative.

In addition, SARS dismisses with contempt the allegation that officials who were allegedly administering President Zuma’s tax affairs were purged from the organisation.

Another fact that proves that the book and the newspaper report are devoid of any factual substance is that all former SARS officials mentioned in the article voluntarily resigned from SARS.

It must be appreciated that, as a result of the dictates of the TAA, the Commissioner is unable to address the veracity of the allegations insofar as they relate to engagement between SARS and other parties, including the President.

SARS wishes to put it on record that the Commissioner does not interfere with a taxpayer’s assessment, audit, dispute or settlement. There are governance mechanisms and control measures in place to ensure that all divisions have the necessary independence to deal with the tax affairs of any taxpayer in a manner prescribed by the relevant tax legislation without fear, favour, prejudice and any undue interference from anybody, including the Commissioner.

We reiterate that the Commissioner, along with all former and current SARS officials, is compelled to uphold the confidentiality of any taxpayer’s information, regardless of the position or status of the taxpayer.

It must be appreciated that SARS is placed in a very difficult position when factually incorrect information is published about a taxpayer, hence its intention to take action against Mr. Pauw and the paper.

SARS cannot refute such reckless reporting by publishing the correct information, for in doing so SARS would contravene the law and also breach the relationship of trust between SARS and taxpayers.

With this in mind, SARS remains resolute, focused and single-minded about meeting our revenue collection target for South Africa, revenue which our country needs for growth and development.

3 November 2017 – SARS Customs uncover undeclared currency worth R6,2 Million

Pretoria, 03 November 2017 – South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs officials made a massive currency bust of undeclared foreign and local currency worth R6,2 Million at King Shaka International Airport yesterday.  

The passenger in question was departing to Dubai when SARS’ Detector Dog Unit conducted a baggage search, and one of the detector dogs reacted positively to the passenger’s luggage.  A scan revealed images consistent with currency. 

This joint intervention between SARS and the South African Police Service (SAPS) led to the passenger’s arrest.

1 November 2017 – Tax season – 24 days to go

Taxpayers urged to avoid last minute rush

Pretoria, 1 November 2017 – Non-provisional taxpayers have 24 days to file their tax returns before Tax Season officially closes for this category of taxpayers on Friday, 24 November 2017. 

This applies to whether non-provisional taxpayers file via a branch or via eFiling. For provisional taxpayers who submit via eFiling, tax season runs until 31 January 2018. 

While branches operate between 08:00 to 16:00 during the week, SARS tax consultants will ensure that all taxpayers are assisted with their tax returns. 

Taxpayers filing their tax returns at a branch can expect an average queue time of 78 minutes, and an average service time of 8 minutes.

Taxpayers are reminded that eFiling is the easiest and quickest way to file one’s tax return and is available 24 hours.

The number of income tax returns received to date has increased to 4 561 877 million. A total of 52.50% were filed at a branch; 47.20% via eFiling, and a very small percentage (0.30%) has been filed manually via post so far.

SARS would like to urge taxpayers to comply with their fiscal responsibility by their income tax returns as well as any outstanding returns to avoid penalties and interest.

eFiling or electronic filing at SARS branch (Non-provisional)

Jonas Makwakwa to return to SARS

Chief Officer: Business & Individual Tax (BAIT), Mr Jonas Makwakwa, will return to the organisation with effect from 1 November 2017,

Trade Statistics

SARS released trade statistics for September 2017 that recorded a trade balance surplus of R4.00 billion due to exports of R101.76 billion and imports of R97.76 billion,

Employer Interim Reconciliation

The Employer Interim Reconciliation is closed now. Employers who have not submitted yet are urged to do so urgently,

Pay Your Taxes or Pay The Price

Your taxes are what keep South Africa moving. From the roads, to the building of homes and schools, to the running and maintaining of hospitals,

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Tax Season is here

Tax Season is here. Why wait in line when you can go online. Register today for eFiling. Let’s do this,

Single registration

Allows taxpayers to register, maintain and view associated tax and customs registrations in a consolidated tax profile,

Extended branch hours

To assist taxpayers with Tax Season 2017, selected SARS branches will be open on Saturdays,

Review of your tax return

If you’ve received a SMS or email from SARS to go to your nearest SARS branch, you will need to take the required documents with you,

Country-by-Country reporting

CbC reporting requires Multi-National Entities to report on their operations in every country that they operate in, see the reporting requirements here,

Changes to personal details

If you received a message recently from SARS about changes to your personal details, you need to visit your nearest SARS branch to verify and avoid fraud,

eFiling downtime

Due to maintenance, eFiling will be unavailable on Friday, 20 Jan from 22h00 to Saturday, 21 Jan at 04h30. We apologise for any inconvenience.

AEOI admin penalties

If you are a Reporting Financial Institution (RFI) and you have missed the AEOI deadline of 31 May 2017, you may be liable for penalties

Mobile Tax Units

Find out where our mobile units are this tax season and see our tax workshops to learn more about tax,

High call volumes

We are currently experiencing high call volumes. We appreciate your patience and ask that you make use of the Call Back option when calling 0800 00 7277.

31 October 2017 – Trade Statistics for September 2017

Pretoria, 31 October 2017 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) today releases trade statistics for September 2017 recording a trade balance surplus of R4.00 billion. These statistics include trade data with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS). The year-to-date (01 January to 30 September 2017) trade balance surplus of R47.12 billion is an improvement on the deficit for the comparable period in 2016 of R6.66 billion. Exports for the year-to-date grew by 5.4% whilst imports for the same period declined by 1.2%.

Click here for the full document.

30 October 2017 – SARS has paid over R120-billion in refunds

More than R20 billion saved in fraudulent claims  

PRETORIA, MONDAY 30 OCTOBER 2017 – SARS is pleased to announce that it has paid over R120-billion in refunds across all tax types in the last 7 months, that is, from the beginning of April of the tax season to date.

An amount of R100.6 billion in VAT refunds has been paid this year. This is a five percent increase compared to R95.6 billion paid last year at the same time.

For Personal Income Tax this year to date, refund payments have increased by 16% with R14, 9 billion already paid compared to R12, 8 billion paid last year at the same time. 

For the year to date (01 April 2017 -10 October 2017), R6.9 billion in CIT refunds has been paid, compared to R5.7 billion last year this time, marking a 21% increase.

Also, SARS wishes to announce that, for this current financial year to date, its risk mitigation measures have saved the fiscus R20 billion in fraudulent claims across all tax types.

It must be noted that there has been an increase in refund pay-outs across all tax types in the last three years.

Value-Added-Tax (VAT) refund payments increased from R162.1 billion in 2014/15 to R167.1 billion in 2015/16, and R181.5 billion in 2016/17.  This year, 2017/2018, is no exception, with SARS already having paid R100.6 billion in VAT refunds, year to date.  This is a five percent increase compared to R95.6 billion paid last year at the same time. 

Personal Income Tax (PIT) refund payments increased from R20.5 billion in 2014/2015 to R20.8 billion in the following year (2015/2016) and R23 billion in 2016/2017.  For the year to date, refund payments have increased by 16% with R14, 9 billion already paid, compared to R12, 8 billion paid last year at the same time. 

Corporate Income Tax (CIT) refund payments totalled at R10.8 billion in both the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 financial years, and increased to R13 billion in the 2016/2017 year.  For the year to date (01 April 2017 -10 October 2017), R6.9 billion in CIT refunds has been paid, compared to R5.7 Billion last year this time, marking a 21% increase.

While SARS is committed to ensuring taxpayers get their refunds, it also has a mandate to avoid revenue loss to the country’s fiscus.  It does this through a series of risk mitigation measures to detect fraudulent claims and non-compliance. 

During the 2016/2017 financial year, SARS’s risk detection measures prevented R35 billion of unwarranted refunds from being paid.  For the current financial year to date (01 April 2017 to date), SARS has already saved the fiscus R20 billion in fraudulent claims across tax types.

SARS wishes to acknowledge the frustration that taxpayers feel when they expect a refund and it is delayed. But, the organisation aims to implement effective preventative measures to detect fraud and non-compliance.

SARS wishes to apologise for any inconvenience caused while having agile systems that make it easier to interact with SARS and prevent revenue leakages due to fraud and non-compliance.

SARS wishes to reiterate that the majority of tax refunds are processed within 72 hours without an audit. In the VAT refund space, for example, during the 2016/2017 financial year, 89% of VAT refunds were released without an audit.

In the last three years, VAT refund fraud cases investigated by SARS’ criminal investigations team amounted to over R2 billion and were handed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).  These cases related to the establishment of fictitious entities and the submission of fictitious VAT invoicing schemes. 

Personal Income Tax (PIT) refund fraud cases investigated by SARS and handed to the NPA amounted to R148 million, for the same period.  SARS currently performs at a conviction rate of 95% for all cases presented and finalised in court.

SARS strives to balance taxpayer service and risk detection as both are essential for an efficient tax administration. It is of utmost necessity to SARS to pay legitimate refunds as the flow back into the economy sustains economic momentum and assists companies to meet their cash flow requirements.

Taxpayers should be assured that processes are in place to ensure the integrity of the revenue outcome. The National Treasury, South African Reserve Bank and SARS perform joint oversight and analysis of revenue on a monthly basis and base budget estimates on the performance of taxes across tax types.  

Managing refunds in order to achieve targets in excess of a trillion rand requires large scale redirection of refunds which would skew economic projections and certainly attract the attention of independent rating agencies. The parameters in place do not allow for this level of redirection of refunds.