“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.