‘Your tax matters’ to protect the vulnerable during Covid-19 – SARS boss | Fin24

Individual tax filing season opens on 1 September and SARS wants taxpayers to make use of its online filing systems as it promotes social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter on Thursday announced the organisations big push to digitise its systems, making filing less of a “headache” for taxpayers and to clamp down and make it harder to be non-compliant.

Kieswetter said the digital offerings have been added to avoid the need for taxpayers to visit offices and “do everything online”. From 1 August SARS will be sending out SMSs to registered taxpayers of their automatic assessments – they can view these assessments and simply accept and complete their filing.

The pandemic has provided an opportunity to modernise SARS systems, he added. Just during the lockdown SARS has added more than 30 additional applications to allow taxpayers to fulfill all obligations online,” Kieswetter explained.

The virus however has also thrust the country on an “unprecedented path” onto waters which are “completely unchartered,” he said.

In the face of the pandemic, SARS has adopted “Your tax matters” as its slogan for this season, Kieswetter explained. “During this terrible pandemic – more than ever before your tax matters. Without it, government would not have the resources to take care of the poorest and the most vulnerable in society who are the worst impacted.

“The millions who depend on social grants would otherwise be destitute,” he said. He went onto say that taxes were helping government to employ frontline workers in health, defence, and other public servants.

SA is expected to miss its revenue target by R300 billon as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. the tax revenue target is now R1.12 trillion.

While SARS is “passionate” about making it easy for taxpayers to comply via eFiling, it is also stepping up its ability to detect non-compliance, he explained. These people must “face criminal charges” and be “brought to book”. “We will enforce administrative action and steps of the tax administration act, including prosecution of those who fail to respond appropriately. We will name and shame those convicted of criminal offences.”

From 1 April and 17 July, SARS has seized R77 million in in illegal cigarettes, as well as R115 million worth of rhino horns at OR Tambo International airport.

Its illicit economy unit stopped R4.1 billion in fraudulent refunds and R511 million in preservation orders have been issued for assets related to illicit activities.

He also noted that there was still a lag in voluntary compliance – of the 567 000 employer reconciliations expected, SARS only received about 325 000 or about 57%. “We appeal to employers to fulfill obligations or face the law,” he said. About 20% of these filings received were also late.

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Source: https://www.news24.com/fin24/economy/your-tax-matters-to-protect-the-vulnerable-during-covid-19-sars-boss-20200730

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