SA taxpayers owe SARS R192bn, enough to cut Eskom’s debt by half

Individuals and corporates owe the SA Revenue Service (SARS) a mammoth R192-billion, money that can easily half Eskom’s debt pile.

This was revealed by Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana, who was responding to a parliamentary question this week.

Godongwana said more than 2 000 entities in South Africa owe SARS R170-billion, while 440 individuals owe the receiver of revenue R22-billion.

The minister said all forms of outstanding taxes constitute non-compliance as taxpayers are provided instruments in law to remedy their non-compliance.

“The approach of treating a taxpayer’s non-compliance, irrespective of who the taxpayer is, applies regardless of the amounts involved,” he said.

He said there are several avenues available to SARS to collect money due to the fiscus.

This includes:

  • The tax man seeks to collect all revenues that are due by engaging the defaulting taxpayers.
  • taxpayers may also approach SARS to request for a compromise on the portion of the tax revenues that are due.
  • Another option is for taxpayers to approach SARS to request the suspension of the payment of tax revenues that are due but disputed.
  • The tax man may also, as per the laws of the land, collect such outstanding revenues from employers, banks and other entities that hold money that is due to the taxman.

“In instances where debt collection methods as per the above fail, SARS may, where economical feasible and justified, attach assets of taxpayers in an effort to collect revenues from the sale of such assets through securing a civil judgment and writ of execution,” Godongwana said.

“It is important to note that SARS has initiated an overall review of the current end-to-end debt management process with the first phase to be completed in April 2022. The improvements in terms of how SARS accounts for and manages the collection of debt will be progressive over the next 12 to 24 months in line with SARS’s strategic plan commitments.”

SARS outlined its strategies and biggest risks for revenue collection over the next few years in its annual performance plan for 2022/23 published last week. The tax man said one of its key strategies over the next three years is to identify new revenue opportunities and increase revenue collection.

This will be done by:

  • Employing artificial intelligence to detect non-compliance;
  • Developing strategies to tackle growing online transactions and e-commerce.

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