Can Sars take my money?

Jul 20 2012 14:23
MyFin24 is a user-generated section of Fin24.com. The stories here come from users.

Fin24 user J L Steyn writes:

When I saw the following rant on hellopeter.com I was inclined to dismiss it out of hand:

paulm7010  Mon 9 Jul:

Watch your bank accounts! Sars is now so hungry for money they help themseves to your money directly from your account without any authorisation, notification or documentation! And Absa can't help you with details either!

However, when a friend of mine reported that Sars (the South African Revenue Service) had taken money from his account without his knowledge or consent (and pushed him into overdraft!), I became intrigued to the extent that I looked up my own banking information as registered on e-filing for the first time in years.

I was shocked by what I found: my account had now been set up with an "authorised debit pull".

I have never authorised any debit of any kind on this account - nor could I logically do so, as the account is a 32-day call account. In fact, Sars notified me recently that my account had to be "verified".

When I went to their offices yesterday, I was told that: "The account is no longer recognised by the computer system." They asked me to give them "The number of a savings account, not an investment account".

I assume that my existing account (already in use for over three years) no longer suited their purposes, as they were not able to "pull" any money out of it.

If you look at the attached printout (printing had been disabled for the data - and I have my suspicions for the reason for that, so I did a screen dump) you will clearly see what has happened.

I suspect this is valid for many, if not all, taxpayers, without their knowledge, who are now sitting ducks. Once Sars has grabbed the money, you may or may not see your money again.

One thing is certain - you will wait a long time for anything to happen on an appeal. Of course, I cannot check anyone else's account, so I cannot verify my suspicion that this is institutionalised theft being perpetrated on a national scale.

I therefore make the appeal that you investigate the matter (perhaps by checking your own accounts) and bringing the results to the attention of your readers. Sars will probably deny any maladministration - but to my mind, the evidence is damning.

(Note that I have changed my account number on this image for security reasons. All else is unaltered.)

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay responds:

I don’t have the details of the taxpayer to be able to look into his/her tax status.

The allegations that Sars proceeds to remove money from people’s bank accounts without notifying them in writing is not true.

Sars sends about six letters on average to a taxpayer with outstanding returns or outstanding tax before taking further punitive actions.

This includes appointing the employer as an agent to deduct money from the taxpayer’s salary - this happens in instances where there is no response from the taxpayer or where no contact is made with Sars about outstanding taxes/returns; Sars issues official letters, text messages and emails - or as a last resort Sars proceeds to remove money directly from a taxpayer’s bank account.

All communication with the taxpayer is recorded.

If a taxpayer has changed their postal address and do not receive communications from Sars, it must be noted that in terms of the law, the onus is on the taxpayer to change their contact details, for example on their annual tax return, or to notify Sars of such changes.

The imposition of administrative penalties is provided for in law. Provisions for such penalties was made public in draft legislation for public comment; the legislation went before parliament and was passed into law around 2008.

To view the Sars penalties brochure click here and for the 'New procedure regarding Administrative Penalty notifications' brochure click here.

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sars  |  tax



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