SARS collects over R625 billion in revenues

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pretoria - Despite challenging economic conditions, the South African Revenue Services collected over R625 billion in tax for the 2008/9 financial year.

The preliminary results was 0.34 percent below Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's February 2009 budget estimate of R627.69 billion, however, they represent a 9.2 percent growth in revenue collection over 2008.

"It is a great pleasure to announce that despite the economic downtown our collection was R625.57 which indicates a 99.66 percent of the target," Minister Manuel said, speaking via satellite from London.

"We announce this figure with great pride because authorities around the world are struggling because of the global economic downturn. For this I appreciate the cooperation by South African tax payers, business and big co-operations."

Mr Manuel is attending the Group of 20 (G20) most powerful countries meeting in London with the aim to boost confidence that global leaders are united in tackling the world economic crisis.

The main contributors to the total revenue were company tax with R165.23 billion, personal income tax with R197.07 billion and VAT with R 153.81 billion.

Mr Manuel said the preliminary results gave further credence and justification to the mood of optimism and confidence in the country.

He explained that it was possible to collect more revenue due to "amazing" compliance and a system that made it easy to submit tax returns.

During the year under review SARS collected R16.4 billion in outstanding debt of which R4.2 billion was collected during the last month.

A total of R14 billion (about 8 percent of the total company income tax) was collected from companies as additional provincial payments in instances where companies had underpaid. Customs deferments collected amounted to R4.2 billion.

The revenue outcome for 2008/09 is a fair reflection of current economic conditions as well as improvements in tax administration, said Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

"This result was achieved in a climate of rapidly deteriorating global economic conditions and is therefore testimony to the relative robustness of the South African economy to date.

"It also highlights the benefits of South Africans of the sound fiscal policy choices we have made over the last 15 years," said Mr Nene.

SARS commissioner Pravin Gordhan thanked the staff and the South African tax paying community.

South Africa had about 8 million registered tax payers, a number which excludes those who pay as they earn.

Mr Gordhan said the SARS staff worked very hard in making follow-up phone calls, cajoling, reminding and negotiating with tax payers.

They chased up faulty "return to drawer" cheques and outstanding debts and monies due. "The money would not have just flown in. Our people have done fantastic work!"

He said SARS also worked closely with the banks so that late banking could take place and electronic transfers of vast sums of money happened smoothly.