Alarm at Sars' bank account grab

2010-07-06 12:05

Johannesburg - The SA Revenue Service (Sars) needs to set out clear guidelines on how it will take money it is owed out of people's bank accounts, a tax specialist said on Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, there is nothing in the Income Tax Act which regulates when Sars can do this: whether it is after the first, second, or third notification that you owe tax." This is where the concern lies, said Ernst & Young tax director Vedika Andhee.
Although the Income Tax Act allowed Sars to recoup money owed in this way, Andhee said there were no regulations on how many notices had to be issued first, whether the client first had to be e-mailed or telephoned, or even whether it had been confirmed that the e-mail and telephone numbers used were up to date.
Without being forewarned, clients could find money had been taken by Sars only when they next attempted to withdraw money from their bank account, she said.
This meant that debit orders and other financial commitments would bounce if there was not enough money in the account to cover the tax liability.

The person would also not have the opportunity to contest the payment demanded.
Currently, if a payment is contested, taxpayers are obliged to hand the money over until the matter has been resolved. It is refunded if the finding is in their favour.
The taxman already had an agreement with employers, whereby a portion of a person's salary was withheld and paid over every month.
However, to recoup money it felt it was owed, Sars could appoint an agent such as the client's bank, which was obliged to transfer the required amount over.
This effectively gave banks the task of becoming tax collectors.
It also seemed that banks were not obliged to contact clients to inform them of the instruction that they would do this, said Andhee.
She believed taxpayers needed to receive proof from Sars that the money was owed to avoid falling prey to scamsters, and that taking money out of a bank account should be a "last resort" action.
"There should be some sort of procedure which should be available to the public."
Sars spokespersons said they would consult Sars' legal adviser, and would provide details on how the money would be recovered later.

- Sapa

  • Lewsi - 2010-07-06 12:10

    All the more reason not to keep your money in the bank, rather under the mattress at home, or in a small safe somewhere. One's money is never safe in a bank. Big brother's watching all the time.

  • Juan - 2010-07-06 12:11

    And what can south african TAX PAYERS do when their tax money is blown on soccer tickets and brand new bmw's? Sars better consider the hate they are breeding before ravaging people's bank accounts!

  • Me - 2010-07-06 12:13

    Withdraw all your money on pay-day and keep it under your mattress.

  • jeanne - 2010-07-06 12:17

    Oh Big Brother. I can't see this working for the people. SARS currently don't have my correct address at the VAT Dept yet they do at the PAYE Dept. They are in a shambles anyway and this is just going to make it worse. I run a small business with my partner and I cringe at the thought of SARS being able to run amuck in our bank account. However, as we are up to date with tax this shouldn't be a problem. Wanna bet, they have made so many errors with our taxes etc over the last four years, I can't list them all.

  • Jacques Beyers - 2010-07-06 12:22

    Well it seems that it is better to cash your pay cheque each month and place the money under your mattress. My biggest gripe is how do I benefit from the taxes I pay? I have private security and have not used the police once in many years, I do not benefit from the government schooling, neither the government medical. What am I paying for? Maybe for the people in the townships to get free everything? To subsidise petrol for the taxis? To assist the useless government employees to party and abuse funds? Where do I see my tax money at work? Roads are in a bad state, and now they are being tolled. SARS makes so many mistakes, and now we must trust them to make the right decision, I think not.

  • Fraud - 2010-07-06 12:24

    If money is taken in "ERROR", say from the wrong account, wrong person and many other probable mistakes, it is FRAUD or THEFT. Can one sue SARS for damages?

  • Gaz - 2010-07-06 12:29

    Pfft what absolute rubbish. Anybody, even Uncle Sam meddling in my account will be considered fraud and I will cause all hell. By law and unless agreed upon and duly signed for it's illegal to withdraw funds from a bank account. Anyway, so many people are in deep in Debt, the banks will refuse to hand over their own money - Will never work!

  • tbone - 2010-07-06 12:32

    this means i have to keep my money out of the bank or open a bank account just for SARS, with nothing in. It seems now that the greed in government on spending my money is so big that they can take my food money for my family to buy their cars and steal tax money without consulting me? If we look at how uneffective state entities are run, they can just take all the money in many bank accounts and then take years to recitify the error? This is very very dangerous and i dont trust the people that have this authority because they are to corrupt to deserve this authority.

  • victor - 2010-07-06 12:33

    I will close my account immediately if this happens to me and pay all my accounts by post as there is too many thieves in this country.

  • Tony - 2010-07-06 12:33

    Come on! If you knew you did not pay your taxes why should SARS entertain you with several notification attempts. SARS should take the money and if you need to contest it is yourn problem. Sorry Vedika your argument is very much sort of stupid.

  • blah blah blah - 2010-07-06 12:34

    SARS blood suckers, sucking every penny out of hard working citizens. This arm of the govt is super efficient since involves collecting money to fill up the bank vault to be robbed. If only the rest of govt was this efficient. damn!!

  • AK - 2010-07-06 12:37

    First start with all the politicians that have their hands in govt tenders.

  • Tsotsi - 2010-07-06 12:38

    SARS you owe me. Please reverse a transaction to deposit the money into my bankaccount. This has been your first "publicized" warning!

  • piet smit - 2010-07-06 12:39

    How would we know whether SARS made a mistake or not? Prove it in a court of law first. That would be the only constitutional way to do it.

  • David - 2010-07-06 12:40

    Is it just me, or do I see mass-SARS-corruption evolving from this? Besides internal corruption, phishing scams will have a field day!

  • Pythagoras - 2010-07-06 12:42

    The biggest thieves in the Country! ANC's henchmen can steal your money out of your bank account without notifying you and the banks are their accomplices.

  • Iceberg - 2010-07-06 12:45

    This thing is draconian and unconstitutional. A citizen must have the right to contest a claim from SARS in the courts before paying. Where is the principle of innocent (not owing anything)until proven guilty (having to pay)?

  • Taxpayer - 2010-07-06 12:46

    The vultures even want an easier way to get a FREE meal …. The gravy train full of vultures must be very hungry!!!!

  • gcr - 2010-07-06 12:46

    I probably won't take too long for a computer hack to come up with a scam of debiting bank client accounts with impunity and whowill carry the can to reimburse the bank or SARS

  • Ria - 2010-07-06 12:48

    SARS disgusts me. I have been struggling to get them to sort out my tax since 1 June 2009. It has to date cost me R8000, I have used 3 tax consultants and still no luck. If you take time off work to go to SARS you are given a number when you arrive there and sit in a queue for hours only to then see a SARS personnel member who stares at you with dead eyes and tells you they cannot help you. Over the last few weeks I have gone into my profile on numerous occasions only to find that eveything has disappeared and a note left in its place saying that I have not submitted by returns. Come one SARS, get off the gravy train and help the honest people who pay their tax every year. Are we back in a police state where we have to bee threatened with seizure of our hard earned salary while SARS do not know their elbow from their proverbial ... At least before you threaten us make sure that your system works and that your personnel who are so incompetent that they cannot do a simple reconciliation do not treat honest people like. At least get a system that works before you go this route. Remember that this country cannot run without the handful of tax payers you have. We pay your salary. Get your house in order and get a system that works and personnel who are taught to smile instead of making yourselves look like idiots.

  • JOSY - 2010-07-06 12:49

    i thought they were going to institute that to potential tax payers "meaning a compulsary tax paying not compulsary tax recoveries" that was going to educate people about tax other than punish those who did not a c.c getting a gov job will have to instruct first the bank to pay sars before he withdraws the money and proofs such a move with income statement of the c.c for that project.but wow its ambigous i don't know

  • Mia - 2010-07-06 12:51

    This is scandalous! We are now in a communist police state. We all know just how many mistakes these people make, just as the shitty councils make mistakes. Always the middle class consumer/wage earner/pensioner has to bear the brunt of their incompetence. And we have to sit by and see our taxes being squandered by incompetents and stolen by politicians. Surely we have a constitutional right to our hard earned savings without every Tom, Dick and Harry being able to expropriate them!

  • mike clarke - 2010-07-06 12:51

    yussis that is NOT halaal!!! not halaal at all!!!

  • pokehump - 2010-07-06 12:53

    Double tax * pay for medical services, then pay a private company. * pay for security, then pay a private company. the government taxes but doens't provide. the same goes for education, pension but then there is things like EE (sometimes inefficiency reducing profits). BEE, capital shares gets diluted, tax on interest, dividends, feul, electronics import, VAT, company tax passed on to consumers, UIF, fees and levies, water (free in other countries) education (free in other countries) and the list goes on probably. Think about wasteful expenditure! Anyway so now they will take it straight from your bank account if they feel like it, the first step to just taking left right centre. Maybe they should have looked after the people paying the most taxes (the 1 million highly skilled people who have immigrated back to the West) and that would have increased tax revenue much more. Just this year my family denied the ANC close to a million rand, just by immigrating. pfft suck on that ANC.

  • mike - 2010-07-06 12:55

    What's wrong guys? Don't the fat cats have enough yet? Are they getting you to do their dirty work as well???

  • EX BANKER - 2010-07-06 12:56

    When I was working in the bank we used to advise our clients that we had a SARS request for money and that way we gave them time to withdraw any funds they had. Some clients then closed that account and opened a new one with a different number.

  • Gene - 2010-07-06 13:02

    This is just great news. Welcome to communist South Africa.

  • SAD DAY IN HELL - 2010-07-06 13:03


  • henk - 2010-07-06 13:05

    get rid of the malemas, zumas and other corrupt anc parlement members, stop stealing money in government by government and leave us alone.

  • Taxed To Death - 2010-07-06 13:10

    .....looks like SARS has moved head office to Nigeria!

  • Charl - 2010-07-06 13:11

    The Government and SARS are the most corrupt parts of this country, The more me and you ( the average Joe ) pays the more they waste our hard earned money on unnecessary !! and we get taxed on each and every thing in this country.

  • Pints - 2010-07-06 13:11

    When I lived in South Africa I only used my bank account to receive payments. As soon as payment had cleared, I withdrew the full amount and stuck it in the safe. Not only did this save on bank charges but it safeguarded me from this type of theft. The interest paid on deposits held in South African banks is so pathetically small it seldom even covers bank charges. What SARS are doing is disgraceful. You are being raped by an incompetent government and they don't even cuddle you afterwards.

  • Neville - 2010-07-06 13:11

    Wake up people, none of you had a problem with SARS depositing money into your account. Why don't you sue them for doing that????. Pay Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar but don't over pay him, then you don't have a problem. @pokehump - Thanks for leaving.

  • Another Victim - 2010-07-06 13:14

    We not safe as humans anymore therefor we have to stay locked up in our houses because of the crime that has gone completely pear shaped... now our money in our private banking accounts are not safe either? Why don't they just wipe out the entire population then they will have everything they want!!!!!!!

  • meisie - 2010-07-06 13:14

    It is not true that SARS uses this as a last resort. We were fined (even though we paid on time) twice last year on VAT payments and the money was simply subtracted from moneys owed to us. First we heard of it was when we got a receipt for the money paid! Still have not had any correspondence on the matter, despite numerous requests, only an extremely rude person on the telephone informing us that the payments showed only the next MORNING on their systems. How do we know this is true? Twice in 30 years also hardly qualifies us as hardened tax evaders/late payers! A friend was due to get a divident payment, got nothing, when he enquired he was told SARS had instructed the money be paid to them, as he owed back taxes. He has not been informed of any outstanding taxes, neither does he know anything about an outstanding amount. Last resort, my ! Tax revenue is down and the deficit will be made up by trumped-up "outstanding taxes" and fines, grabbed from our bank accounts. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg, is not a warning they heed.

  • MJD - 2010-07-06 13:16

    Agree with Lewsi and Jacques - under the mattress is the way to go! I cannot believe that SARS have the gall to think that they can just DO this and get away with it.

  • Taxpayer - 2010-07-06 13:17

    Bunch of woeses. I pay less tax now than I did under the old government. I get tax back every year, and for the last two years this has been within 48 hours of me submitting my return. Having closed down two businesses of my own in the last 10 years, I have had to go in to SARS and sort the tax details out, including PAYE and VAT and have found the SARS officials unfailingly helpful and friendly - unlike the dragons from pre 1994 days. If you don't pay your tax, if you don't fill in your forms correctly, you're going to suffer. Tough. I wish they'd lock you up as well as take your money. And SARS aren't responsible for spending the money - only for collecting it.

  • James - 2010-07-06 13:18

    This is nothing new. With SARS both now and in the past you are GUILTY UNTIL YOU PROVE THAT YOU ARE INNOCENT and that is law. Stealing the money out of your bank account is just an extention of legalised theft. What did Mansfield say on Highveld the other day - 4.5 million taxpayers support the whole system including 13.7 million on social grants ! Time for SARS to treat the taxpayer with some respect.

  • pokehump - 2010-07-06 13:19

    Its time! Those who pay tax, stop. If you can't withhold tax, immigrate. Its a democracy, but the people who support it financially are sidelined when it comes to make good decisions (and those who pay tax, make good decisions, they should have the biggest voice). Each tax payer supports 3 non-tax-payers in South Africa, yet I was unable to buy a house and I made 3x more money than the average person matching my Western demographic. In short, you are all slaves of the ANC and we need to fight for economic freedom the same why the ANC fought for "freedom".E

  • Laska - 2010-07-06 13:19

    AGGGG guys - Just take all your money OUT of the bank and put it under your mattress !! But do let me know where you live - please

  • zane - 2010-07-06 13:20

    GREEDY sars has now legalised theft!

  • liz - 2010-07-06 13:20

    So now what? if sars take your money you do not have the choise to pay it off any more and you will loose your car, house because those are the living things that make you pay - paye you have to sleep in some place and that cost money you have to go to work and that cost money every day now they want to take it all???? This is not fair at all we will close our accounts and take the money and put it somewhere else where we can use it for the day to day expenses with out bankcharges or paye on it This is just one of the other things that the rainbow nation is paying for - and you can not even blame it on apartheid because apartheid wasn't fair against all races but still they did not take all your money - who's fault is it anyway if you owe sars money? your tax deductions should have worked out by your employer's program eg (pastel) so the employee is not at fault here- What taxes is the street vendors paying and the freelance outjies - cash no-one now if they make a milion or 10rand and they will never be worried about sars taking their money??????

  • VIVA ANC - 2010-07-06 13:20

    ........SARS can now take over my overdraft commitments...Viva ANC, Viva! Eish, you are so klevah!!

  • Thin Cat - 2010-07-06 13:24

    Please Mr Taxman, leave us poor sods alone..School fees, rent, food & transport is killing us...Target the rich cos they are living off the poor...SARS is still one of the few Govt. dept's that has a degree of efficiency...Taking money out of your bank account without notification is illegal. Phansi Fatcats Phansi !!!

  • Vernon Wolf - 2010-07-06 13:28

    You all bitch about it but what have you done?? Join the petition againts this and simply move your account to another institution if this happens... this is the only way to get the "just as corrupt" banks to put their food down... if money dissapears from my account for whatever reason without prior notification to me I'll be laying criminal charges againts the bank... simple as that. Banking in SA is not government owned or run!!! their service to me is private!!!

  • Martin - 2010-07-06 13:30

    Why are all of you people whining? Let me guess, your tax affairs are not in order and you want to avoid paying what you owe. Sars is using this as a last resort to get the fair dues.

  • Dizz - 2010-07-06 13:45

    Very easy to counter that! IF they deduct money off your account without your permition, all you need to do is go to the bank and reverse the debit, and withdraw all your money out of your account.

  • Adriaan - 2010-07-06 13:54

    Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s. Pay your taxes as is expected of all citizens and you have nothing to worry about. If you owe money to the state, then the state is within its rights to take the money that you owe them.

  • CTheB - 2010-07-06 13:55

    Great incentive to have multiple bank accounts and not keep money in the one SARS has on record. Of course, it'll only be a matter of time before SARS changes the law such that one cannot have a bank account the details of which they don't have. Which will then be an incentive to keep cash out of bank accounts.

  • average joe@martin - 2010-07-06 13:57

    martin i think its the principle of government thinking they can do what they want going into peoples private affiars which is the problem...its just wrong simple as that.we as human beings are allowed to our privacy its a god given right which is slowly being taken away from us,communist state here we come there goes all your privacy...soon state owned cameras will be installed in all your homes

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