SARS puts a lot of thought into new tax law

The SA Revenue Service (SARS) must have put a lot of thought into the new Tax Administration Bill (TAB) currently before parliament.

The objective of the legislation is to protect the honest taxpayer, assist in correcting mistakes, obtain information without behaving like the Gestapo, and take no prisoners when it comes to tax evasion.

It requires a delicate balancing act between over-burdening taxpayers and leaving the door wide open to tax evaders.

The TAB is going to be an improvement on what we had. We will have a standard approach to the administration of each tax act. Also, great care has been taken to make the TAB understandable by most people.

But it is very dry stuff. Closer inspection of the detailed requirements relating to the registration of taxpayers reminds one of an old joke.

It starts off with the bloke who realises that it is his responsibility to register for tax within 21 business days of being required to do so (as opposed to casino spiele SARS having to notify the taxpayer).

So he fills in the form and goes down to his local SARS office – only to be sent home again because he didn”t have all the information or papers required. SARS can treat the taxpayer as not having applied until all the registration requirements have been met.

Some of the new SARS requirements are stringent identity checks. There have been countless attempts to defraud SARS through phoney tax registrations, followed by subsequent claims for refunds. The risks are particularly acute when it comes to VAT.

So our taxpayer bloke goes down to SARS office one for fingerprints. This is no longer the messy procedure of the past. SARS is at the forefront of technology and can afford digital scanners.

Office two has a range of special microphones with voice-recognition technology. That”s quite fun when you get the command, “Please don”t sneeze in the microphones; other taxpayers have to use them!”

Office three is state-of-the- art stuff: iris or retina recognition. There is just no way of dodging that one.

One office left. What could be in store now? What wonderful new technology could SARS have that goes beyond retina recognition?

The door to office four is closed with a big sign reading, “Knock before entering”. The taxpayer knocks and waits.

Response comes from within: “Friend or enema?”

Originally published in the Sunday Times Tax Talk column.

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