Here’s a warning to those of you who take a rather relaxed view on doing taxes – you could end up with a criminal record.
That, and SARS can decide to publicly shame you.
In July, they published the names of 10 offenders who failed to submit their returns, and those 10 people now have criminal records.
Funny how they hired crooks and enabled pilfering for years, and now SARS are shaming members of the general public.
Anyway, we digress – Fin24 reporting below:
SARS has always been able to do this in terms of the law, but in the past elected to only fine offenders…
“We have a new type of taxpayer, guys who over the last 10 years who felt morally righteous about not paying their taxes,” [tax attorney Darren] Britz said. As a result SARS has made use of this scare tactic to address the slip in compliance, he explained…
“In other countries around the world this is commonplace. If you do not pay your taxes you get criminally prosecuted.”
Sure, but we’ve never really been like other countries in the world.
If you’re the type of person who does file your taxes, but you’re prone to taking a few liberties here and there when doing so, a word of warning:
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.
Whilst issues of non-compliance, such as not filing returns or not completing returns correctly, are dealt with by SARS issuing penalties, they can actually play really nasty:
SARS has 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…
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.
Nobody likes doing their taxes, especially with the knowledge that SARS could turn up the heat at any point, so what’s the recommended course of action?
[Tax consultant Vincent] Radebe and Britz both explained that instead of doing your own calculations always have a professional check if you are unsure about possible errors, before submitting a return.
Once the action is identified as criminal, the matter will be referred to a SARS official dealing with criminal offences to separately investigate the criminal elements, Britz explained.
In a civil process, the onus is on the taxpayer to prove their case. In a criminal matter it is up to SARS to do the criminal investigation to prove its case.
Yeah, I think I’m going to ask the professionals to give my taxes the once-over before hitting submit. That would be the team at Galbraith | Rushby, who offer professional tax compliance and advisory services to individuals and businesses.
With tax season having kicked off on July 1, we’re about six weeks in. If you’re filing your taxes manually, or via the post to SARS, you have until September 21.
Good luck sending anything via the SA Post Office – we have been over this.
Provisional taxpayers using e-filing have until January 31 to file their returns.
Non-provisional taxpayers, using e-filing electronically or at a SARS branch, have until October 31 to file.
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