Taxpayers need education and not punishment

I COULD not believe the announcement by Oupa Magashula, Sars commissioner, that they will impose tougher penalties to non-compliant taxpayers at the end of the current tax year, with a minimum penalty of R250.

The penalty will vary according to the taxable income of individuals.

The commissioner feels that this action is only fair to those people who pay their taxes and in that way contribute towards the development of our country.

Fair enough, but the question is: is Sars doing enough to educate the masses of taxpayers in this country of their tax obligations?

I would think that the emphasis should be more on taxpayer education than imposing harsher penalties.

There was, for some time last year, a taxpayer education drive that was conducted by the revenue services, but unfortunately this initiative focused more on the suburbs (shopping malls) and so on.

I feel that nothing is being done to reach out to professional people who live in the rural areas.

Most of these people don't know that it is an offence not to submit their tax returns, mainly because tax deduction is reflected on their pay slips every month. And they believe that they are paying their taxes.

Who can blame them? Sars should engage with all employers and emphasise the need for tax-obligation education with their employees.

Most of these employees do not even know what to do with the IRP5 and IT3s that they receive every year. I don't think Sars will win if taxpayers decide to take the matter to the courts.

Sibongiseni Mhaka, Rosettenville