Home Tax Avoid being a ‘criminal’ by filling for tax returns

Avoid being a ‘criminal’ by filling for tax returns

Source: Fin24. Author: Lameez Omarjee

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According to Fin24: Last month SARS published the names of 10 offenders who failed to submit their returns and who now have criminal records.SARS has always been able to do this in terms of the law, but in the past elected to only fine offenders, explained Darren Britz, tax attorney at Tax Consulting South Africa.“We have a new type of taxpayer, guys who over the last 10 years who felt morally righteous about not paying their taxes,” Britz said. As a result SARS has made use of this scare tactic to address the slip in compliance, he explained.

“All SARS is saying let’s make a media campaign about this and let’s prove to taxpayers if they do not comply we will prosecute them criminally. Nothing has changed in terms of the [Tax Administration] Act, they have always been able to do this,” he said.

“In other countries around the world this is commonplace. If you do not pay your taxes you get criminally prosecuted.

If a taxpayer is subject to an audit, and finds intentional evasion then the taxpayer will be penalised, in addition to the tax that is owed.

“Depending on how bad your behavior is, your penalty essentially goes up.” Non-compliant taxpayers can be penalised up to 200% of the tax owed.

All issues of non-compliance, such as not filing returns or nor paying taxes, or not competing returns correctly were dealt with by issuing penalties, even though SARS had the right to imprison offenders in addition to the fine. SARS has the option to imprison the offender up to a period of two years, said tax consultant Vincent Radebe.

In terms of the act, other criminal offences include issuing false or incomplete or erroneous statements. Failing to register with SARS or notify SARS of a change in registered particulars is also an offence. Radebe advised to keep SARS updated about details as well as contact information.

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