Sars goes after Mzwakhe Mbuli

The People's Poet Mzwakhe Mbuli disputes that he owes the taxman over R700k.
The People's Poet Mzwakhe Mbuli disputes that he owes the taxman over R700k.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Popular poet and activist Mzwakhe Mbuli is embroiled in a legal dispute with Sars over a R700 000 tax bill allegedly owed by a trust he is leading.

The taxman filed papers in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg last week seeking an order against Mzansi Poetry Academy Trust and its trustee Mzwakhe Isaac Mbuli, stating that the entity failed to pay tax on its employees' salaries, known as PAYE (pay as you earn).

Sunday World can reveal that Mbuli was served with a letter of demand at his Joburg home in July and asked to settle the bill or face the might of the receiver.

According to the letter, dispatched from the Sunninghill branch of Sars dated July 25, the academy, established in Mbuli's honour, and led by him as chairperson, owes Sars an amount of more than R726000. The papers show that Mbuli and the academy were given 10 days to settle the amount or face legal action.

Mbuli told Sunday World this week that he was surprised by the receiver's application and the inclusion of his name on the matter, stating that he had not benefited financially from the academy.

"I have been reading stories about Sars going for other celebrities in the media but I did not know that I was also on the list. All I can say is that the academy is run full-time by Peter Mbuli as CEO, and if Sars has gone to court, it would mean that he has not been paying taxes," he said.

The controversial poet, who recently lambasted the Constitutional Court judgment on the legalisation of dagga, said he does not recall receiving letters of demand from the taxman.

"If I had received the letters I would have consulted with my lawyers and urged them to make arrangements to settle the debt," he said.

Peter confirmed that the entity owed Sars money. "We have been paying tax and the only time we didn't pay was last year because we did not have money.

"We are still waiting for money from our funder, the department of arts and culture. We will resolve the matter as soon as we receive the tranche from the department. At the moment there's no money to pay tax," said Peter.

He also said that Sars sent the letter of demand to Mbuli's house because he had used his home address when registering the academy.

"I have also informed Mzwakhe Mbuli that we indeed owe Sars money for tax because he is the chairperson of the academy," Peter said.

Sars spokesperson Sandile Memela said: "Sars is not in a position to divulge specific information and details on the affairs of taxpayers. Sars is bound by chapter 6 of the Tax Administration Act, 2011, dealing with confidentiality of information, and more specifically section 69 of the act, which provides for the secrecy of taxpayer information. This includes investigations into taxpayers or traders."

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