Approved tax law gives Sars upper hand

2012-07-05 12:29

Cape Town - Legislation allowing the SA Revenue Service (Sars) to search business premises without a warrant is expected to come into operation within the next three months.

The Tax Administration Bill was promulgated into law on Wednesday in the Government Gazette, Sars said in a statement on Thursday.

The act would come into operation on a date to be determined by President Jacob Zuma by proclamation in the gazette.

"Sars's preparations for the implementation of the act are at an advanced stage and it is anticipated that it will come into operation within the next three months," it said.

The act was intended to simplify and provide greater coherence in South African tax administration law.

It eliminated duplication, removed redundant requirements, and aligned existing disparate requirements in different tax acts ranging in age from four to 63 years old.

It created a single, modern framework for the common administrative provisions of the tax acts.

"Most taxpayers are compliant, and the act should ensure better service and a lower compliance cost for them," Sars said.

"Sars is, however, duty-bound to actively pursue tax evaders in order to maintain compliant taxpayers' confidence in the integrity of the tax system."

Key features of the act include:

  • A move to a single registration process and number across taxes to reduce red-tape and streamline the system, and self-assessment of taxes so taxpayers need not wait for a Sars assessment;
  • Greater access to third party data to underpin Sars initiatives, such as the pre-population of individual tax returns;
  • Clearer rules on Sars access to information, so tax liabilities can be determined more quickly and accurately;
  • The ability to search business premises without a warrant in narrowly-defined situations, where the general requirement for a warrant will defeat the object of the search, so Sars can act when tax is at serious risk and time is of the essence;
  • Clear requirements and timelines for issuing tax clearance certificates to provide greater certainty and responsiveness to business;
  • Feedback on audit progress and findings to engage more fully with taxpayers and ensure they understand the reasons for any adjustments;
  • Specific timeframes for decisions of the Tax Board (a "small claims court" for tax) and wider reporting of Tax Court decisions to improve access to justice; and
  • The appointment of a Tax Ombud, informed by international experience, to provide taxpayers with a low-cost mechanism to address administrative issues that cannot be resolved through Sars's normal channels.

Although the act provided for a year from its commencement for the appointment of the Tax Ombud, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced in his 2012 Budget speech that the ombud would be appointed this year.


  • martin.britchford.5 - 2012-07-05 12:44


      konstabel.koekemoer - 2012-07-05 13:06

      I support this as long as it is not abused by SARS. Companies that are avoiding tax through illegal means have an unfair advantage over those that do comply and tax evasion puts more pressure on the all the honest tax payers. The fact that the government squanders our tax money through incompenence and corruption is another issue alltogether.

      Oneant - 2012-07-05 13:27

      "Sars is, however, duty-bound to actively pursue tax evaders in order to maintain compliant taxpayers' confidence in the integrity of the tax system." Who is going to pursue corruption and wasteful expenditure in order to maintain the citizens confidence in paying tax in the first place?

      susanna.smit.7 - 2012-07-05 14:26

      Why sell goods for money? Exchange goods for goods, the only legal way of defying the taxman. It will be a bit tricky to exchange my lemons I grow in the backyard for other things I need at Pick n Pay, but I am sure Raymond Ackerman can come up with a solution. Take the rum and dried codfish exchange between Jamaica and Canada as an example.

  • fussed.anderson - 2012-07-05 12:50

    The act would come into operation on a date to be determined by President Jacob Zuma by proclamation in the gazette. Then this could take a very long time

      michael.bourbon.1 - 2012-07-05 13:06

      Lets hope he is "applying his mind"...... will take years then!!!

  • andre.mostert - 2012-07-05 12:50

    They need more money for the goverment to waste maybe they can buy another 10 planes..

      gerald.king.589 - 2012-07-05 15:44

      at least 10 planes we can see!

      zambezi.river - 2012-07-06 09:11

      @Margie..........I think BLACK ANTS would be more appropriate!

  • thepatrickwinter - 2012-07-05 12:50

    Beware the sheriff of Nottingham and his escort. The law of the land now has even more power. Surely this is not constitutional ?

      skia.bran - 2012-07-06 08:58

      chapter 2 section 14 - Everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have ­ their person or home searched; their property searched; their possessions seized; or the privacy of their communications infringed.

  • - 2012-07-05 12:54

    How about first working on getting the taxi industry, and informal traders into the tax net first.

      gert.grobler.94 - 2012-07-06 10:13

      Yes the taxi guys only deal in cash-no receipts- no proof of transactions-no tax-...pure profit. An industry that could be worth over R300 mil. (profit alone) per year just for Johannesburg (30km radius) Even Cele has a taxi business. (probably not declared either)

      derekneilmaclachlan - 2012-07-06 13:09

      Chinese industry....hit them first and then lower all of our taxes....they pay nothing!!!!

  • gavin.taylor.79 - 2012-07-05 12:54

    A perfect way to target your enemies or those who oppose you. Another step towards the Stalinist state that the majority are suckered into voting for.

      gert.grobler.94 - 2012-07-06 10:42

      Yes Gavin they haven't succeeded yet with this secrets law to as to target their enemies , so this law will have to do in the meantime. Expect your front door been broken down in the middle of the night and they 'search' your property (and planting damning evidence without you seeing) and off you go to jail.. it seems they hate anything that is white and like Pelgrimsrus they will close us down. The farmers could also be targeted in this way. We are going into bad times and it is difficult to be positive. SA is indeed one of the most Unhappy countries in the world. Even with this positive constitution we ask, why can't they stop corruption and now our right to privacy will be 'legally' ignored.

  • ngoako.mathekga - 2012-07-05 12:55

    This is likely to be abused.

  • cliff.slabbert - 2012-07-05 13:04

    One step closer to a police state! Just now they will start attaching assets willy nilly!

      cliff.slabbert - 2012-07-05 13:06

      Or Try!

      cliff.slabbert - 2012-07-05 13:11

      Thomas Jefferson : “Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not”. A Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves! "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher

  • Thembi - 2012-07-05 13:11

    Now Zuma wants us to pay for tolls in disguise what about people that are not working?and they've got cars as well?This means the working Class and the people that are living innocently will suffer.This also shows the desperation of the president to suck all the cents he can.

  • john.loveland.9 - 2012-07-05 13:15

    I agree with most part of the act, but tax collection needs to be more inclusive, i.e. the taxi industry, BUT search and seizure with out a warrant, no chance. Explain how "...the general requirement for a warrant will defeat the object of the search"??

  • fredster.mania.5 - 2012-07-05 13:16

    What about the Taxi's?

      gavin.taylor.79 - 2012-07-05 20:31

      Good point mate. Considering that taxi owners, shebeen owners, hawkers and many other self-employed people work from home, this would mean that govt officials could search your home without any warrant, but on the mere suspicion that you are cheating on your tax. I am very keen to see who is targeted....

  • Glyn - 2012-07-05 13:17


  • pisciotta - 2012-07-05 13:21

    This is amazing. After all the BEE hoopla and desire for ownership of the formerly oppressed, the SA Government is realizing that the new Business Owners are screwing the Government out of Tax Revenue. I'm laughing about this. Don't wish too hard for something - you just might get it!

  • johan.rademeyer.90 - 2012-07-05 13:25

    Thank you! Can we please start with all the Chinese shops. The Chinese have been working the cash only system now for some time, avoiding all forms of tax.

  • marc.schnehage - 2012-07-05 13:33

    Search without a warrant - detention without trial - sound familiar? This bill will never pass constitutional muster!

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-07-05 13:42

    Flipp'n nazi's! That is totally unconstitutional! Try get past my shotgun taxman!

      chris.martinus.5 - 2012-07-05 17:37

      Absa-bluddy-lutely! We just have to protect our constitutional rights ourselves.

  • danny.archer.589 - 2012-07-05 13:45

    This has surely got to be unconstitutional....

  • dhavandran.palavar - 2012-07-05 13:45

    gordhan , first get your own house order by jailing those in govt ie provincial, local and national who flaunt the law with regards to rigging the procurement process to benefit themselves and their cronies and those for not declaring their offshore and other investments for tax evasion. lead by example and we will comply.

  • lynn.syme.1 - 2012-07-05 13:48

    Oh lawdy! Here they come!

  • lydonmcg - 2012-07-05 13:54 people not read? "The ability to search business premises without a warrant ***in narrowly-defined situations***..."

      badballie - 2012-07-05 14:48

      Haha... do you not understand that ***in narrowly-defined situations***..." really means when they want to?

      merven.halo - 2012-07-05 15:20

      'The ability to search business premises without a warrant in narrowly-defined situations, where the general requirement for a warrant will defeat the object of the search, so Sars can act when tax is at serious risk and time is of the essence; ' Not even murderers' and drug lords' houses can be searched without a warrant, SARS is going to have so many law cases against them. This law will be in direct conflict with human right laws. Who will decide 'where the general requirement for a warrant will defeat the object of the search'?

  • marilyn.edge.3 - 2012-07-05 14:15

    So next we'll have criminals posing as SARS representatives to legally enter business premises and saying they need to seize computers etc. What protection do we have against this? If they can lay their hands on SARS letterheads to send out fraudulent letters they surely can successfully pose as SARS officials. How are we going to know if it's legit or not if there's no warrant?

  • sipho.zikalala1 - 2012-07-05 14:23

    More brown envelopes.

  • mohlala.moroamadile - 2012-07-05 14:30

    More rules and laws is not a solution. A solution is at the core of the implementation and effective monitoring process of the existing laws. There need to be systems that run effectively by highly-skilled and non-corrupt people. The gov. is getting more power by day. Surely this cannot be right ... I see this being used as a tool to target certain businesses. There is a reason why a warrant is needed - as it stops certain individuals from abusing the system for their benefit

  • badballie - 2012-07-05 14:46

    I hope someone has the money and foresight to contest this in the constitutional court, Although I do not have any objections to the principles behind it, this will never the less be the start of the end. It is very easy to argue that a law like this if applied to something like taxes will not take long to be implemented in all facets of the law, and will simply be a stepping stone to doing away with search warrants completely, although honest citizens should have nothing to fear, the state has already proven that it will abuse any law, and the incidents of police raids on private citizens will be just the first volley in the formation of a police state.

  • alex.richards.94064 - 2012-07-05 17:34

    Will this apply to all or just the currently disadvantaged?

  • Tommo - 2012-07-05 17:40

    More importantly, Sars needs the authority to search ANC offices across the country without a warrant

  • mark.barker.370 - 2012-07-06 08:22

    Time for a tax revolt

  • Sean.Nefdt - 2012-07-06 11:15

    Why take away the need for a warrant , Is this not against our constitutional rights?

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