Leave Sars untainted

Current debate over the merits of the mooted lifestyle audit for public representatives has put the spotlight on the South African Revenue Service.

Current debate over the merits of the mooted lifestyle audit for public representatives has put the spotlight on the South African Revenue Service.

The tax authority is set to come under pressure from all angles as individuals seek to get a foothold on whose tax matters are in or out of order.

Unfortunately many of those who seek to know will not necessarily be motivated by altruistic reasons.

In the same manner that institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority and Scorpions became contested areas of political control of the ruling party and state, the taxman seems set to be the new battlefield.

It will be a great pity to allow politicians to use revenue services for what ultimately will be short-term political gain. South Africa can ill afford to have yet another public institution's credibility tainted by political infighting thus compromising the fair administration of justice and the fight against corruption and organised crime.

The onus is on those who wield political power and the executives in charge of Sars to preserve the sanctity of this important institution. It also lies with the rest of society, including the media.

A story leaked to the media about which personality faces the wrath of the law with regards to the individual's tax affairs might boost circulation, readership or viewership but it will damage the integrity and credibility of one of the few state institutions that still enjoys public confidence.

A credibility-stripped Sars would be yet another step towards being a banana republic.

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