For most of the week, the practices of SARS have been under the X-ray of a judge and three formidable lawyers. Judge Robert Nugent, assisted by Professor Michael Katz, Advocate Mabongi Masilo and lawyer Vuyo Kahla, has listened intently to testimony revealing what's eating SARS. Tax revenues are down and VAT has gone up for the first time in over two decades, signalling a weakening in the system of how taxes are collected. The commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance at SARS was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to probe why tax revenue and tax buoyancy are going down. There has been a skills exodus from SARS, and numerous executives who gave evidence told stories of being marginalised, embarrassed and stripped of their incomes after suspended commissioner Tom Moyane allegedly undertook a scorched-earth policy to get rid of staff he didn't want. But the commission itself was heartening. It marked a triumph of the rule of law over SARS's descent into a shadow...

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