Delinquent taxpayers hauled into to court

SARS.
SARS.
Image: File Photo

Taxpayers who failed to submit returns are being prosecuted in a crackdown led by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

SARS said on Monday that there had‚ over the years‚ been an “unacceptable increase in the non-submission of returns across all tax types” including PAYE‚ VAT‚ corporate income and personal income tax.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said recently that SARS had collected R1.216-trillion for 2017-18 which was slightly less than what was targeted for collection.

SARS said the crackdown was a new initiative aimed at prosecuting “non-compliant taxpayers‚ including prominent South Africans‚ who have failed to submit returns. Taxpayers who are found guilty will end up with a criminal record."

The initiative saw a businessman pay an admission of guilt fine of R5‚600 in the Port Shepstone Regional Court last week for failing to submit more than 50 outstanding Value-Added Tax (VAT)‚ Pay-As-You-Earn‚ (PAYE) and Corporate Income Tax (CIT) returns.

Cases involving hundreds of outstanding returns will appear on court rolls in different parts of the country between April 16 and 20 – including four cases in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. There will be cases in Ficksburg and Bothaville in the Free State‚ and the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court in KwaZulu-Natal.

"The decision to resort to enforcement of compliance through criminal prosecution is a last resort. All the taxpayers that will appear in court were engaged beforehand and final demands were issued to them before the criminal cases commenced. At this stage 36 dockets have been handed over to the NPA‚" said a statement issued by acting SARS spokesman Sicelo Mkosi.

"The significant drop in the submission of returns was one of the key indicators pointing to decreased compliance and was highlighted by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene during the announcement of the tax revenue collection figures for the 2017/2018 financial year."

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