Oupa Magashula  Pic: VELI NHLAPO.
Oupa Magashula Pic: VELI NHLAPO.

MORE than 500 people have been convicted this year for not complying with the taxman.

South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Oupa Magashula said he was marshalling his troops to be even tougher on non-compliant citizens.

He said the current tough economic times was no excuse for not paying up to the taxman.

In fact, " hard times gives us an opportunity to concentrate more meaningfully on those who are not compliant", Magashula said.

He was addressing the media yesterday in Sunninghill, Johannesburg, where he announced new measures to deal with people who refused to recognise their tax obligations.

He said the old penalty system was inadequate since up to 5,3million returns due to Sars were outstanding last year and legal action had to be taken against 81000 people. Three million returns are outstanding this year.

He said from November 20 harsher administrative penalties would be meted out to people who failed to register as a taxpayer, inform Sars of changes to personal details and failed to submit tax returns and other documents to Sars.

The penalty regulations came into effect in January but Sars delayed implementation because proper systems were not in place.

As part of the process to clamp down on tax dodgers Sars will approach agents such as the taxpayer's employer or banks to debit the outstanding amount from the defaulting taxpayer's salary or other available funds.

The new penalties will comprise continuous monthly penalties for each month that an income tax return remains outstanding.

The amount will be determined by the taxpayer's taxable income and will range from R250 a month for those earning up to R250000 a year, to R16000 a month for those earning more than R50million a year.

Magashula said his organisation needed to strengthen its enforcement levels in order to create a "fair" environment for those who honour their tax obligations.

Kosie Louw, Sars chief officer for legal and policy affairs, said penalties would not be "overarching" for all offences committed by an individual taxpayer.