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Opinion - Zuma's tax records must now be shared

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is responsible for the collection of taxes within the Republic of South Africa. The mandate and vision of the South African Revenue Service, quoted from their website, is to:


"Collect all revenues due.


Ensure optimal compliance with Tax, Customs and Excise legislation.


Provide a customs and excise service that will facilitate legitimate trade as well as protect our economy and society.


SARS is driven by the aspiration to contribute directly to the economic and social development of the country by collecting the revenue due to enable government to deliver on its constitutional obligations, policy and delivery priorities in pursuance of better life for all in South Africa. By encouraging tax and customs compliance, we also aspire to contribute to the building of fiscal citizenship reflected by a law abiding society.


The anchor for SARS to deliver on this mandate is the higher purpose and values which drives and informs all SARS employees’ behaviour."


Average person...? What has happened to "We are all equal before the law?”

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Zuma's tax records must now be shared. Here's what that means for taxpayer secrecy in SA | Fin24


A court ruling ordering SARS to share the tax records of former president Jacob Zuma with the media doesn't mean that tax information of average taxpayers will become available to whomever asks for it, say analysts.

A court ruling ordering the SA Revenue Service (SARS) to share the tax records of former president Jacob Zuma with the media may herald the start of the rolling back of the tax agency's long-held policy of absolute taxpayer secrecy, according to adjunct associate professor Deborah Tickle of the University of Cape Town's (UCT) Tax Unit.

The two media houses went to court in May, arguing that when the tax compliance of a head of state is in question, they should be able to invoke their rights of access to information, and, if there is a statutory hindrance to this, they should be allowed to challenge its constitutionality.

The allegations of noncompliance that made disclosure imperative, they argued, included that Zuma never filed tax returns for the first seven of his nine years in office; that he owed millions in unpaid taxes for the benefits derived from the tax-funded improvements to his home in Nkandla; and that he received money from illicit sources, including the Gupta family and tobacco smugglers.

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SARS South African Revenue Service

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