Tom Moyane SARS

Tom Moyane file photo

SARS: South African taxpayers are losing faith in the system

Taxpayers are dodging payments, following in the footsteps of political bigwigs.

Tom Moyane SARS

Tom Moyane file photo

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is struggling to collect money from taxpayers who have lost faith in the system due to wanton corruption.

This was the main concern discussed at the 21st Southern African Internal Audit Conference, which was held in Johannesburg on Monday.

Acting SARS commissioner, Mark Kingon, noted that overburdened taxpayers were evading the payment of revenue due to government’s own irregular expenditure and tariff circumvention.

Value Added Tax evasion

This, Kingon said, has resulted in at least R1.5 billion still being owed to the national fiscus by roughly 35 000 vendors who have not submitted their VAT (value added tax) returns.

Speaking at the conference, Kingon touched on issues of government mistrust, and the wariness surrounding his own organisation in light of the recent Tom Moyane saga, saying:

“This year, Sars has one of the most crucial risks, with low levels of public trust and credibility which impact on the fiscus. Public trust and behaviour of taxpayers in doing what is right is of a serious concern to us as the revenue service – and specifically regarding people who are simply choosing to not pay their taxes.”

South African taxpayers have long bemoaned their duty to rescue continuously failing state-owned enterprises, amongst other things.

In a country which has recently been rocked by large-scale corruption, state-capture and financial nepotism reaching the top-tier of government, it comes as no surprise that taxpayers are fed-up.

Damage control following Gupta dealings

SARS in itself has had to do serious damage control, attempting to restore its image as fair and firm, following former-commissioner Moyane’s dodgy dealings with the Gupta family.

Kingon admits that his organisation’s credibility has been thrown into disrepute, but maintains his commitment to uprooting corruption and irregularities, saying:

“Each day when I wake up and I see news articles that seem to bring our credibility issue up … it worries me but I am committed that my organisation should be seen to be doing what is right.”

While the head commissioner understands the reasoning behind low-level evasion, he has urged South Africans to the honest and transparent when it comes to paying tax.

Kingon added that there are strategies put in place to better monitor government and public spending and that irregularities in either field would be met with prosecution, saying:

“I don’t want to get into the debate about how government spends money, but there are works afoot to ensure government spends credibly. And we recognise that also impacts on people’s willingness to pay.”