On the eve of this week's budget speech, the SA Revenue Service (Sars) swooped on self-confessed tobacco smuggler Adriano Mazzotti and seized luxury cars and other assets to pay for his tax debt, which is reportedly almost R34m. It was a clear signal that Sars was back on the beat, tackling the damage done to its willingness and ability to chase politically connected tax dodgers during the tenure of former commissioner Tom Moyane. Moves are under way to appoint a new permanent commissioner and rebuild Sars's capacity. The agency launched a new illicit-economy unit in August last year, which is looking at 58 cases. Its first priority is illicit tobacco, which a Treasury study found is costing at least R2bn-R3bn a year in lost tax revenue, but the new unit will also be looking at illicit fuel as well as clothing and textiles. Though Moyane disbanded the old investigative unit - the so-called rogue unit - using it as a platform to launch hugely damaging attacks on Sars officials and Pr...

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