The modernisation of the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS’s) systems over the past decade has led to steady improvement in the quality of tax administration data, in terms of its accuracy, completeness and the timeliness of availability in structured, digital form, suitable for analysis. These data quality improvements underpin the annual publication of the Tax Statistics Bulletin, which is now used widely by academic researchers and economic commentators. The effect of administrative and technology advances is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the administration of personal income tax (PIT). Taxpayers who file PIT returns are able to start with forms that are prepopulated with data from third parties, such as financial institutions or their employers. This eliminates errors that could occur in recapturing data already available digitally, leading to a reliable body of data spanning the entire population of individual tax filers, which may be used for analysis. Not only does...

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