Minister confident in SARS as tax season kicks off

Monday, July 2, 2018

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on Monday expressed confidence that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) will reach its R1.345 trillion target for the 2018 tax year.

“The focus right now is on meeting the target. I have confidence in them to go out there and get it,” said Nene at a media briefing.

Earlier this morning, the Minister tried his hand at assisting a taxpayer via the telephone at the SARS contact centre in Alberton while touring the facility.

He said while the South African economy might not be doing too well, he has confidence in the revenue service team to reach the revenue target.

Last month, acting SARS Commissioner Mark Kingon announced a shorter tax season timeframe that will run three weeks shorter than in the past.

On Monday, Kingon, who is yet to file his tax return since tax season kicked off officially on Sunday, said the target gives him sleepless nights.

“There’s a lot of effort [that goes into meeting the Minister’s target]. It’s crucial for our country that we do our best to get there. My team and I are committed to do that. At this point, its early days. We are in the first quarter of the financial year and we will be looking at the figures and the gaps. We should be able to reach the target,” said Kingon.

Nene said the revenue service is key to the economic development of the country.

Last year, SARS received 5.6 million tax returns and is working on surpassing that number.

Apart from reaching the revenue target, SARS is also working on getting taxpayers to make use of digital platforms (eFiling). The revenue service is also phasing out manual submission drop boxes.

Nene said Treasury continues to work with the SARS management team to ensure that it meets its mandate.

Restoring confidence in SARS

Kingon said the revenue service is working on restoring public confidence in the revenue service.

“There are many things that have gone wrong in the last few years that obviously detract our team and staff from our mandate. We are committed to focus on our obligation to collect the right proportion of taxes - not a cent more, not a cent less. We are committed to doing our job.”

Restoring confidence, he said, entailed doing the right thing, hence the release of the Service Charter today.

“We are showing that we are going to commit to service, that we are prepared to be held to accounting standards. In so doing, we are going to show that we are a credible body at SARS,” said Kingon.

Nene congratulated SARS on the release of the Service Charter, which outlines the rights and obligations of taxpayers and the service standards they can expect from SARS.

Among the challenges highlighted by Kingon is the issue of non-compliance by some taxpayers, including VAT vendors, who chose not to pay.

Nene said government is seized with the issue of restoring credibility to the revenue service, strengthening the capacity of SARS to collect revenue and meeting revenue targets, as well as stabilising SARS.

“If you look at our debt figures, a significant portion of it relates to administrative penalties, which relate to returns. There is a significant amount of people who are simply choosing to ignore [filing their returns],” said Kingon.

This year’s tax season, which runs 18 business days shorter than usual, will conclude on 31 October 2018.

Meanwhile, provisional taxpayers who use eFiling (www.sarsefiling.co.za/ ), have until 31 January 2019 to file, while the deadline for manual submissions is 21 September. 

SARS inquiry

Nene said processes must run their course in terms of the Commission of Inquiry into tax administration and governance at SARS that was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The commission began its hearings last week.

Nene said the disciplinary hearing of SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane, which is also driven by the Presidency, must also be given the due space to run its course. – SAnews.gov.za

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