SARS

1 October 2018 – One month to file tax returns

Operating hours extended to Saturdays in October

Pretoria, 01 October 2018 – Individual taxpayers have 30 days left to file their personal income tax returns.

Tax Season closes on 31 October for non-provisional taxpayers and for those provisional taxpayers who opt to file at a branch.  Provisional taxpayers ordinarily have until 31 January 2019 to file on eFiling only.

The focus this filing season has been on the 24-hour eFiling channel which taxpayers can use at their leisure without having to go to a branch.  eFilers are supported by the Help-You-eFile mechanism during business hours, which links them to a SARS contact centre agent who can assist the taxpayer to complete their tax return.

In the last month of filing season, the SARS contact centre will be available on Saturdays on 06 – 27 October from 8 am to 1 pm, to support taxpayers with eFiling. 

All SARS branches will also be open on Saturdays at the same time where taxpayers can make use of self-help kiosks to electronically file their personal income tax returns. 

It is important to note that the extended hours on Saturdays will only be used to assist with personal income tax returns.

To date, SARS is close to reaching the 3-million mark in tax return submissions for the current year of assessment. This is approximately a 4% increase compared to the same time last year.  Of these returns, 51% have been submitted through eFiling. 

Administrative penalties will be applied to late filing of tax returns and range from R200 to R5000. In accordance with the Tax Administration Act No. 28 of 2011 (TAA), and specifically Section 234 (d), it is a criminal offence not to submit a tax return for any of the tax types a taxpayer is registered for.

SARS has clamped down on outstanding tax returns to improve compliance, with 18 taxpayers prosecuted this year for not filing a return.  These taxpayers, who were publicly named, had ignored SARS’ reminders that they were due to file a return, and now possess a criminal record. Fines ranging from R2000 to R20 000, as well as admission of guilt fines were handed down by the courts, while some were imprisoned.

Taxpayers should be alert of scams where refunds are promised or where the taxpayer is informed of debt they owe SARS.  These scams come in various forms including letters, email, website links and even individuals either posing as SARS officials, debt collectors or tax preparers.  There are instances where tax preparers promise taxpayers a refund in return for a percentage of the refund as a fee. Fraud is often committed in the name of the taxpayer by claiming fraudulent expenses. When SARS does identify this fraud the taxpayer will be liable for the full debt as well as penalties.

Taxpayers should always authenticate communication in relation to SARS via the contact centre or a SARS branch.  Suspicious tax activity can reported online or via the SARS suspicious activity hotline.

Taxpayers are reminded that tax season is about reconciling tax deductions from the previous year and assessing whether the correct amount of tax was deducted.  This assessment can result in a refund to the taxpayer or a payment to SARS where the taxpayer owes tax to SARS.  Alternatively it can result in a nil return, where the taxpayer neither owes SARS nor is due a refund. 

Important contact details:

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13 September 2018 – SARS Customs bust female traveller with almost R10-million in US Dollars

Pretoria, 13 September 2018 – On Tuesday this week, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs officers intercepted a Hong Kong bound female student at OR Tambo International Airport, with almost R10-million – 630 000 USD – packed in 50 and 100 dollar bundles in a plastic bag.

The final amount, after counting, totalled 630 700 USD, which equates to R9 460 500.00.

The flight was due to leave when the officers intercepted the passenger on the flight. The passenger, a South African female student, who had boarded with two bags as hand luggage, was then alighted with her luggage.

Initially, she denied having currency in her possession, but after further questioning, she admitted that she had a substantial amount of money in her back pack.

Officers led her to the Customs search area, where she was placed in an interview room and requested to complete a traveller card. The passenger verbally stated that she had 650 000 United States dollars in her bag. She admitted that she was not the owner of the currency, nor could she supply any proof of ownership.

Customs registered a criminal case of smuggling currency and failure to declare at the local police station. The passenger was then arrested pending her court appearance on the charges. The case was registered under the South African Police Services, case number 117/9/2018. The student is expected to appear in court today.

“SARS remains appreciative of the constructive collaboration between ACSA, SAPS, DPCI, Asset Forfeiture Unit (NPA) and the State Security Agency (SSA), which is yielding positive results in the fight against the scourge of illicit financial flows,” said Acting Chief Officer: Customs and Excise, Beyers Theron.

Customs bust 13 Sep 2018 A.jpg

Customs bust 13 Sep 2018 B.jpg


 

31 August 2018 – Trade Statistics for July 2018

Pretoria, 31 August 2018 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) today releases trade statistics for July 2018 recording a trade deficit of R4.66 billion. These statistics include trade data with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN). The year-to-date (01 January to 31 July 2018) trade deficit of R6.51 billion is a deterioration on the surplus for the comparable period in 2017 of R33.21 billion. Exports year-to-date increased by 3.6% whilst imports for the same period showed an increase of 10.2%.

Click here for the full media release.

Visit the Trade Statistics webpage.

29 August 2018 – SARS to assist the Deaf taxpayers

PRETORIA, Wednesday, 29 August 2018 – In celebration of Deaf Awareness Month (September), SARS will be assisting the Deaf communities with their tax affairs at specific SARS branches around the country.

The initiative involves availing South African Sign Language interpreters weekly at the SARS branches in Alberton, Vereeniging, Roodepoort, Pretoria, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Durban CBD, Mthatha and Worcester.

The service will be rendered at the following branches during the month of September:

  • Tuesdays – Roodepoort, Worcester, Pretoria North (1st and 2nd Tuesday of September) and Pretoria CBD (3rd and 4th Tuesday of September) branches
  • Wednesdays – Alberton branch 
  • Fridays – Vereeniging, Polokwane, Durban CBD, Mthatha and Nelspruit branches.

The public is requested to disseminate the message to all the Deaf in their respective communities and to note that this service will also be extended to other members of the community who need to visit the SARS branches.  This will afford the Deaf taxpayers with a unique opportunity to attend to their tax affairs.

SARS has pledged to improve accessibility for the Deaf and Blind communities, and to educate the general public about tax matters.

Find detailed schedule below:

Branch SASL Interpreting Services Schedule 

Date Branch
Tue, 4 Sep​ ​Roodepoort, Worcester and Pretoria North
​Wed, 5 Sep ​Alberton
​Fri, 7 Sep ​Polokwane, Nelspruit, Vereeniging, Durban CBD and Mthatha
​Tue, 11 Sep ​Roodepoort, Worcester and Pretoria North
​Wed, 12 Sep ​Alberton
​Fri, 14 Sep ​Polokwane, Nelspruit, Vereeniging, Durban CBD and Mthatha
​Tue, 18 Sep ​Roodepoort, Worcester and Pretoria CBD
​Wed, 19 Sep ​Alberton
​Fri, 21 Sep ​Polokwane, Nelspruit, Vereeniging, Durban CBD and Mthatha
​Tue, 25 Sep ​Roodepoort, Worcester and Pretoria CBD
​Wed, 26 Sep ​Alberton
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28 August 2018 – Two VAT fraudsters handed down lengthy jail sentences

Pretoria, Tuesday 28 August, 2018 – A prominent Western Cape man and an East Rand bogus tax practitioner who participated in a scam defrauding SARS of R32 million, were sentenced to a combined 26 years direct imprisonment last week.

Mr Cornelius Johannes Kriek (42) from the East Rand pleaded guilty to 29 fraud charges, 21 money laundering charges, and one charge of corrupting a public official. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 21 August.

In the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court, on 23 August, Mr Thomas Bloemeris (Tommy) Fortuin (66) from Ridgeworth in Bellville, was sentenced to six years direct imprisonment on 236 charges of fraud and forgery relating to the tax affairs of close corporations belonging to members of his family. He pleaded guilty to all the charges put to him in terms of a plea bargain agreement reached with the state.

Magistrate W van der Merwe handed down an additional 12 months imprisonment to Fortuin for failure to submit two Income Tax returns. Three of the six year imprisonment sentence and the one year jail sentence for failure to submit outstanding returns were suspended conditionally for five years.

Cornelius Kriek
Kriek presented himself as a bookkeeper to unsuspecting Value Added Tax (VAT) vendors, offering swift and corrective action by submitting VAT201 returns on their behalf. Suspicion was raised by a legitimate tax practitioner who discovered that a large refund had been paid into the account of her former client within a short while after the client had switched his account to Kriek.

Kriek was also sentenced to 84 years imprisonment, suspended wholly, but conditionally for money laundering and ten years imprisonment for corrupting a public official. Five of the ten years is to be served concurrently with sentences for other charges.

It is alleged that a former SARS employee, previously employed by SARS as a VAT auditor for 35 years, assisted Kriek to commit the fraud. The cases against the two accused were recently separated after Kriek pleaded guilty. The case against the former SARS employee continues on 23 October 2018. 

SARS fraud investigators established that the VAT auditor enabled the fraud by releasing substantial VAT refunds after she ostensibly audited the respective VAT 201s submitted by Kriek on behalf of vendors. The fraudulent refunds were divided between the vendors, Kriek and the SARS employee. A total of 18 companies were involved in the VAT refund scheme, which created an actual loss of just over R32,9 million to the fiscus.

Tommy Fortuin
Two other accused in the Fortuin case were also sentenced.
Fortuin’s son, Tom-Ross Fortuin (35) and the bookkeeper who assisted the family in committing the crimes, Mr Ivor Carlo Carolissen (38), also entered into a plea bargain with the state. They were both sentenced to four years imprisonment suspended for five years, and 18 months Correctional Service, which includes house arrest and community service. Fortuin was found guilty of 79 charges of fraud and uttering and Carolissen for 167 charges of fraud and uttering.

Mr Fortuin (jnr) was ordered to pay SARS back an amount of R615 592, representing the full capital amount of money stolen from SARS through the scams perpetuated by the accused. This money had to be paid in full beforethe sentencing procedure, and has been received by SARS.

He was also sentenced to 12 months, suspended for five years, for failure to submit three Income Tax returns.

The sentences follow an investigation by SARS criminal investigators, which revealed that the convicted individuals submitted fraudulent VAT refund claims to SARS, based on fictitious transactions between the family’s four closed corporations.

Neo Tsholanku, Group Executive: Criminal Investigations welcomed the sentences, saying that SARS is committed and has the depth and tenacity to bring unscrupulous thieves who steal from the fiscus to book. He noted that the sentences also show that the courts are increasingly taking a stance against failure to submit tax returns to SARS.

Tsholanku added that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has prosecuted 29 cases since April 2018, maintaining a conviction rate of 97%. More than 400 other cases dealing with tax crimes are currently on trial.

A fact sheet relating to the Fortuin case, prepared by the NPA: Western Cape is attached.

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24 August 2018 – SARS to re-establish the Large Business Unit and Illicit Economy Team

Pretoria, Friday 24 August 2018 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) wishes to announce that it is re-establishing the Large Business Unit and Illicit Economy Team.

The SARS Acting Commissioner, Mr Mark Kingon, is on record as having recently informed Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance that he will re-establish the Illicit Economy Team. It was also reported recently at the Commission of Inquiry into tax administration and governance at SARS that the Acting Commissioner for SARS has already begun a process to re-establish the Large Business Unit.

The decision, made by the Acting Commissioner and the SARS Executive Committee, was based on the pivotal role that these units play in enabling SARS to provide effective and efficient service to large corporate taxpayers, and in fighting illicit trade in the country.

The Chief Officer for Governance, International Relations, Strategy and Communications, Mr Hlengani Mathebula, has been tasked with leading the process to re-establish the Large Business Unit, while the re-establishment of the Illicit Economy Team will be led by the Chief Officer for Enforcement, Ms Mogola Mokola. The involvement of the two senior SARS officials is crucial to ensure that the new units are not merely a rehash of the previous units, but rather to ensure that the units will be responsive to the challenges currently being faced by SARS. 

SARS has already put together a multi-disciplinary team to work out the details and logistics of these highly focused and disciplined units. Among the team members are experienced officials who worked in the disbanded units and would make valuable contributions to the formation of the new units. The teams have already commenced with their work and it is envisaged that progress reports will be presented to the SARS Executive Committee by the end of August.

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15 August – SARS, TISA and FITA commit to combatting illicit trade in cigarette and tobacco products

Pretoria, Wednesday, 15 August 2018 –  The South African Revenue Service (SARS)  met with the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) and the Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) on 15 August 2018 at the SARS Head Office in order to discuss and agree on collaboration among them to combat illicit trade in cigarette and all tobacco products.

FITA and TISA, which represent approximately 99% of the tobacco industry, have committed to taking action against any of their members that are found to be contravening the Tax, Customs and Excise laws of the country, including but not limited to suspension and/or expulsion.

The two associations also committed to ensuring that their members fully comply with the relevant legislation at all times. Members who may be in contravention of the laws are encouraged to take corrective action through available avenues, including making full disclosure to SARS.

All parties acknowledge their shared responsibility in combatting illicit trade in cigarette and tobacco products in the best interest of economic growth and compliance with Tax, Customs and Excise laws.

The Acting Commissioner of SARS expressed his appreciation to both parties for their commitment towards improving compliance in the industry.

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7 August 2018 – Appointment of Mr Johnstone Makhubu as SARS Chief Officer: Finance

PRETORIA 07 August 2018 — The South African Revenue Service (SARS) wishes to announce the appointment of Mr Johnstone Makhubu as its Chief Officer: Finance with immediate effect.

Mr Makhubu holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from the now University of KwaZulu Natal as well as a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Supply Chain and Operations Management from the University of South Africa. He further holds a Master of Business Leadership (MBL) from the University of South Africa’s School of Business Leadership. Mr. Makhubu has further completed a Senior Management Programme with the Henley Business School and is at the outset of a PhD with the University of Pretoria.

Mr. Makhubu has more than 17 years of experience across the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Mining, Engineering and Manufacturing, as well as Power Generation industries, where he has held positions ranging from, Facilities Management, Supply Chain Management, as well as Business Support Services. Mr. Makhubu has worked for Unilever (Lever Brothers), Tiger Brands, Anglo Platinum and Eskom.

Prior to joining SARS, Johnston worked for Eskom, where he was responsible for implementing a rationalised centre-led procurement hub. He was later appointed as the Head of Business Enablement within Eskom, where he was responsible for, amongst other functions, the Commercial Finance Unit, which later extended to cover the Supply Chain Management Risk and Governance Unit.

Mr. Makhubu joined SARS in 2016 as the Group Executive responsible for Procurement, and was appointed to the Acting Chief Officer: Finance role in August 2017, a role he has held and executed to date. In this current role, Mr. Makhubu will be responsible for the overall management of the Finance Division including Procurement, as well as the Corporate Real Estate portfolios.

3 August 2018 – SARS customs makes major busts of drugs and currency within days

Pretoria, 03 August 2018 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs division made a bust of multiple currency and drugs at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA). This was the latest in a string of illicit/illegal goods busts, valued at close to R15 million.

On Monday 30 July, risks were identified regarding two non-related male passengers, who were possibly in possession of excess currency travelling to Dubai. The travellers were intercepted, attempting to leave RSA and were questioned.

The travellers, in both instances, then admitted that they were in possession of currency. Upon further questioning, the two passengers could not provide explanations or evidence as to how they had acquired the currency. They were escorted off and taken to the Customs control area where their respective luggage was searched.

Upon inspection of the first passenger’s luggage, currency (USD464 650) equivalent to R6 114 794 was found concealed in paper wrapped with brown tape. The currency was confiscated, and the passenger handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for further investigations.

During the inspection of the second passenger, currency (USD 234 000) equivalent to R3 079 440 was found also concealed in paper wrapped with brown tape. The currency was confiscated, and the passenger handed over to the SAPS for further investigations as well.

SARS appreciates the high level of active collaboration between ACSA, SAPS, DHA, Asset Forfeiture Unit (NPA) and the State Security Agency (SSA), which leads to such effective detections and successful prosecutions of passengers.

On 31 July 2018, a shipment from South Africa destined for the UK was profiled for examination at Couriers, when a Customs detector dog reacted positively. The shipment had been declared as ‘Car Parts General’, however, upon physical examination of the contents, a booster charger was found which felt unusually heavy.
The part was X-rayed and square shaped image impressions were observed, which led to the part being dismantled, revealing 15 blocks concealing a white powdery substance which was wrapped with black rubber and foil. The powder was analysed and it tested positive for cocaine. The goods weighed 16kg, which has an estimated value of R4 800 000. The shipment was handed over to SAPS (DPCI) for further investigation.

In another incident, a parcel declared as books, also from South Africa to Australia, was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit when a detector dog reacted positively. Upon inspection, four books were found containing sheets of plastic with a white powdery substance. A drug testing kit was administered and tested positive for cocaine. The goods weighed 2.5kg, which has an estimated value of R750 000. They were handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

Furthermore, on the 28 July 2018, a Brazilian female passenger expelled several “cocaine bullets” with an estimated value of R285 000.  She was intercepted whilst disembarking from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg, and intercepted when the information was received. The passenger was questioned and her luggage was searched with nothing suspicious, however risk indicators suggested that the passenger might be a drug mule. The passenger was taken to the hospital and an X-ray was conducted, which revealed foreign objects in her abdomen. The passenger was handed over to SAPS for further investigation.

In another search, a parcel with no documentation was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit. Upon inspection, plastic containers concealing 250 Cannabis Heads, with an estimated value of R25 000 were found. The goods were also handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

In another interception, a parcel from South Africa to Dubai was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit. Upon inspection, a magazine was found concealing two travel documents, valued at R1 400. The goods were handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

Another male passenger disembarking from Addis Ababa to Johannesburg was intercepted. During questioning, the passenger could not verify where he was travelling to. His passport indicated that he had been in Singapore where he obtained his visa. The passenger was taken to the immigration inspectorate office for an interview, where the visa was identified as fraudulent. He was then refused entry into South Africa, and will be returned to his country.

SARS Customs officers, together with rest of the country’s enforcement agencies, will continue to remain on high alert and vigilant at all ports of entries to stem the tide of illicit/illegal goods coming through or out of our borders.

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