Criminal record awaits taxpayers failing to submit returns

SARS offices. File photo.
SARS offices. File photo.
Image: Reuben Goldberg

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

SARS said yesterday there had‚ over the years‚ been an unacceptable increase in the non-submission of returns across all tax types including PAYE‚ VAT‚ corporate 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 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,” it said.

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 VAT‚ PAYE and Corporate Income Tax returns.

Cases involving hundreds of outstanding returns will appear on court rolls in different parts of the country this week, including four cases in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.

There will also be cases in Ficksburg and Bothaville in the Free State and at the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The decision to resort to enforcement of compliance through criminal prosecution is a last resort,” acting SARS spokesman Sicelo Mkosi said.

“All the taxpayers who 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.

“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 2017-18 financial year.”