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Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s maiden budget was a sobering reminder that despite the departure of disastrous former SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane, the tax agency is far from out of the woods. Back in October 2018, when he delivered the medium-term budget policy statement, Mboweni forecast a shortfall of R27.4bn in tax collections. In parliament this week, Mboweni revealed the situation was actually far worse: tax revenue would be R42.8bn less than projected, or R15.4bn worse than his October figure. There were several reasons for this. As the acting commissioner of Sars, Mark Kingon, pointed out, the tax service has had to pay out higher-than-expected VAT refunds. Also, weak economic growth means corporate income tax revenue is also lower. In all, personal income tax provided R552bn for the state’s coffers, VAT provided another R360bn and corporate income tax contributed R229bn. Shaky administration at Sars over the past few years is another reason for the shor...

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