Sars urges consumers to settle debts to avoid penalties — or worse
With three weeks until the deadline for all outstanding debts to be settled, the tax man has reminded consumers that failure to pay tax is a criminal offence
In the aftermath of finance minister Tito Mboweni’s shock revelation that there will be a R42.8bn shortfall in revenue collection this year, Sars has issued a reminder and warning to taxpayers that the deadline is just three weeks away.
Merely weeks after debates on social media around the implications of a possible future tax revolt — started by Western Cape premier Helen Zille — Sars has issued a warning to consumers that if they do not pay their tax they will have committed a criminal offence, and that the tax agency has legal means at its disposal to collect the money.
In a statement issued this week, Sars reminds South Africans that the deadline is March 29, and that failure to make payment in time will attract interest and penalties.
South Africans have been known to leave filing with the revenue service to the last minute, bringing the online system and networks to its knees. Sars has therefore urged taxpayers to avoid waiting until the last minute. In fact, it has suggested that everything be settled before midday on the due date.
Of particular concern to the agency are taxpayers who need to sort out VAT submissions and payments, excise duty payments, corporate income tax, provisional tax payments, and those needing to honour existing payment plans with Sars' debt management.
While urging the public to do the right thing and co-operate with Sars, the taxman also reminded taxpayers that failure to pay tax was against the law. “Remember, it is a criminal offence not to submit a tax return when it is due, and legal action can be taken if you do not pay the tax owed to Sars,” it says.
It has several legal avenues to recover money a taxpayer has not settled, or has shown no intention to settle.
- Collecting the debt from an entity that holds money on your behalf via third-party appointments, such as employers, banks or customers. For more information on third-party appointments visit the Sars website, www.sars.gov.za.
- Issuing a judgment and having your name blacklisted.
- Attaching and selling your assets.
- Obtaining a preservation order in respect of your assets.
- If you hold off-shore assets, an order can be obtained compelling the assets to be repatriated to SA and, in the interim, your right to trade or to travel can be restrained.
- Liquidating or sequestrating your estate.
The best thing to do if you are having difficulty meeting your obligations is to contact Sars and try to make an arrangement. The same applies if you disagree with the amounts you owe or do not understand your obligations. Rather be safe than sorry.
The Sars call centre number is 0800 00 7277.