Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS
AUTHORISED INVESTIGATION INTO SARS Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS

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.

The ombud has been inundated with complaints about delays by SARS in paying refunds and allegations have been made that the tax authority was withholding tax refunds to boost its tax revenue collection performance.

SARS was due to announce the amount of revenue collected in 2016-17 early in April. Gordhan qualified his reply saying that the information he was providing was submitted by SARS and had not been verified by the Treasury.

Gordhan noted that the total value of VAT refunds still being audited at end-February was R17.3bn compared with R12bn as at February 29 2016. A total of 343‚674 VAT refunds were claimed in 2016-17‚ of which 43‚650 claims were not refunded by end-February.

Gordhan noted that only returns required during the period in question were included and all late returns and/or carry over returns from previous years were excluded.

The total value of VAT refunds claimed for the period March 1 2015 to February 29 2016 was R128bn‚ of which R18bn was not refunded by February 29 2016. The total number of VAT refunds claimed for the period March 1 2015 to February 29‚ 2016 was 341‚167 of which 34‚132 claims were not refunded by February 29‚ 2016.

In terms of an age analysis of refunds claimed but not refunded by end-February 2017‚ Gordhan said 58% (25‚484 in terms of number) and 80% (R15.6bn in terms of value) were outstanding for up to one month; 19% (8‚159) and 12% (R2.3bn) for two to three months; 12% (5‚407) and 6% (R1.2bn) for four to six months; 7% (3‚113) and 2% (R372m) for seven to nine months; and 3% (1‚487) and 1% (R148‚3m) for 10 to 12 months.

Regarding diesel refunds‚ Gordhan said claims for the period from March 1 2016 to February 28 2017 were R2.6bn‚ of which R657m was not refunded by February 28 2017. The total value of diesel refunds claimed for the 2015-16 year was R6.7bn of which R806m was not refunded by February 29 2016.

The total number of diesel refunds claimed for the period March 1 2016 to February 28 2017 was 55‚547 of which 6‚064 claims were not refunded by February 28 2017. The total value of diesel refunds still being audited as at 28 February 2017 was R237m.

The age analysis on value and numbers of diesel refunds claimed but not refunded by February 28 2017 showed that 43% (2‚607 in terms of number) and 48% (R314m in terms of value) were outstanding for up to one month; 21% (1‚262) and 19% (R123m) for two to three months; 17% (1‚015) and 20% (R133m) for four to six months; 18% (1‚088) and 12% (R79.4m) for seven to nine months; and 2% (92) and 1% (R7.5m) for 10 to 12 months.

– TMG Digital/BusinessLIVE


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