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Moyane confident SARS will reach higher tax target despite recession

Jul 03 2017 09:02
Lameez Omarjee

Soweto – Despite the fact that South Africa is in a technical recession, South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane said the tax revenue target is R1.265trn - higher than that of last year.

He was speaking at the launch of tax season 2017 at the SARS branch in Orlando East on Monday.

This target exceeds the one set last year, said Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, who was also at the briefing.

Moyane explained that revenue drops are a function of the greater macro-economic environment, as South Africa is a player in a global environment.

He encouraged South Africans to “do the right thing” and pay their taxes. “[It] tells us if people are passionate or committed to the country or not,” he said.

Harsh action will be taken against those who don’t comply, he warned. “Tax, like death and democracy, is the greatest leveller,” he said.

Gigaba said possible changes to the target will be announced at the mini budget, after Treasury meets with the Reserve Bank and SARS to discuss any revisions.

“At the MTBPS [medium-term budget speech] we will make an announcement whether to revise them downwards and up and if so, to what extent.”

‘Pay to Caesar what is due to Caesar’

Gigaba explained that the taxes paid by citizens are critical in affirming the sovereignty of the nation.

“[It] has an enormous impact on ensuring that we are able as government to fulfil our responsibilities to our people.

“A government which cannot rely on its own resources, the resourcefulness of own people to finance socio-economic development to finance our own democracy, cannot stand proud among nations of the world and declare sovereignty.”

Paying tax is a statement of faith by South Africans to do what they can to make the country what they want it to be, he said.

“We do not need to underestimate that little fact. When all is said and done, that little fact becomes the most important fact.”

The responsibility of building the country belongs to all South Africans. “It belongs to me, it belongs to you. It belongs to every taxpayer,” said Gigaba.

South Africans should avoid tax evasion, and be honest when declaring their incomes.

“Pay to Caesar which is due to Caesar. But Caesar no longer lives at the expense of society,” said Gigaba.

The people get paid back through the fiscus by means of the services provided by government, he explained.

He said that South Africa has outperformed developed countries when it comes to tax reach and compliance, but that more can be done.

At the tax event on Monday were (left to right) Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, SARS commissioner Tom Moyane and Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi. (Photo: Lameez Omarjee)

Credible SARS

Gigaba commended SARS for being a “credible, modernised, strong, and able” system able to fulfil the responsibilities for our democracy.

“It is our responsibility in the revenue service to ensure South Africans continue having faith in the institution,” he said. This means SARS must develop its capacity to continue reaching South Africans.

“Government is serious about helping SARS maintain its position as a capable, modernised tax system,” he said.

The work of SARS is similar to that of other social partners in the economy, and Gigaba said different social partners will continue to be engaged to grow the economy. Growing the economy is a joint effort between citizens, government, business and the tax revenue service.

“I want to see the number of employed increase and those receiving social grants decrease. South Africa must play their part in the initiative to get all our people working,” he said.

This would boost consumer confidence, and eventually draw investment. A growing economy would expand the tax revenue base, he explained.

With South Africans being socially conscious and active, along with an efficient and responsible institution like SARS, Gigaba said government would come through and fulfil its role, and referred to the action plan which is being finalised to move the country forward. This plan will be released after the ANC national policy conference, he said.

“Government will do its part to reignite growth in the country,” he said.

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