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A difference of style

Apr 08 2018 06:00
Riana De Lange

The release of the preliminary tax revenue for 2017/18 in Pretoria on Tuesday couldn’t have been more different to what it was last year, under former finance minister Malusi Gigaba and now-suspended SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane.

This year, under the leadership of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and acting SARS commissioner Mark Kingon, the atmosphere was relaxed, the tone of the presentation was in no way hostile and Sars’ focus was on restoring the taxman’s credibility.

2018

Kingon commenting on:

The credibility of SARS: “In my capacity as acting commissioner at SARS – a role I am humbled to be entrusted with and a role I have accepted with the view to continue to be at service to our country.

“SARS, despite having gone through pain in the recent past, remains a solid organisation, its foundations are strong, its systems are robust and the people of SARS are resilient.

“Our focus going forward is to restore credibility, in particular our relationship with the taxpayer.

‘That includes everyone from the spaza shop owner who works with VAT-related goods, to the super rich with foreign assets.”

Efficient service and praiseworthy conduct: “At SARS, we want to render an excellent, fair and professional service whenever you contact us.

“If we do that, people will have a different view of paying tax, a patriotic one which is about doing the right thing.

“We want to get back to the basics and simply do what is right. I must emphasise that: that is what my commitment is – to do what is right.”

Skills: “One of these principles is paying attention to the skill set within SARS, to enable it to fulfil its tax collection mandate and to handle the challenges posed by issues such as transfer pricing and the erosion of the tax base.”

2017

Moyane commenting on:

The credibility of SARS: “I have to warn that we are beginning to observe a disturbing trend where tax compliance levels are deteriorating.

“We believe that the continuous negative media coverage and comments by those outside SARS over the past 18 months are having a negative impact on taxpayers and tax morality with respect to their confidence in South Africa’s tax system.”

He quoted a media report stating that “the biggest problem that we have in South Africa today is an erosion of the integrity of SARS”.

Moyane said this was a problematic statement and that the allegation was unfounded, unfairly subjective and bereft of all fact.

Efficient service and praiseworthy conduct: “A tax revolt is something we have to be wary of. That can be part of incitement which can be created so that people won’t pay tax.

“Despite the constant flood of negativity toward our organisation by some in the public domain, SARS remains very successful in collecting personal income tax. Everything is going well with personal income tax. The only problems are economic in nature.”

Skills: “It is simply not true that SARS is losing skills,” Moyane said, replying to a question.

“I’m not sure what your source is that 55 senior officials have left SARS since I was appointed as commissioner. Give me the source and details on who the 55 people are so that we do not have to have this argument about something that is not factually correct.

“If I can use my palm – one senior SARS official left. Why are we now beginning to question the ability of the SARS leadership when they deliver the goods and are being able to be transformative?

“I find it very strange that this question is being asked. There was a time at SARS when scores of exceptionally gifted black people were leaving the institution, but it wasn’t an issue. What is the relevance of asking the question now?”

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sars  |  malusi gigaba  |  tom moyane  |  nhlanhla nene  |  mark kingon
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