The total value of VAT refunds‚ which had not been refunded by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) by end-February amounted to R19.6bn of the R129.3bn claimed during the 2016-17 tax year‚ Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday. His written reply to a parliamentary question by DA deputy finance spokesperson Alf Lees comes in the wake of the announcement that the finance ministry has given Tax Ombud Judge Bernard Ngoepe the go-ahead to conduct a systemic investigation of tax refunds by SARS.

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