The Long Arm of SARS

Special mention was made of the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP) or amnesty v3 in the 2017 budget speech. Pravin Gordhan mentioned that to date SARS has received applications totaling R3,8bn in assets which will yield revenues of about R600m.

He also waxed lyrical about the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities around the world. Pravin announced that SARS would be implementing and applying this policy with effect from September 2017. It is clearly evident from his remarks that SARS have been given a mandate to work actively with the international tax community to gather as much information as they can on South African taxpayer’s activities abroad.

There are two lessons to be learnt from Pravin’s comments:

  • Use this SVDP opportunity to regularize your affairs or face the full force of the long arm of SARS. The SVDP amnesty period closes on 31 August 2017.
  • Taxpayers who operate and/or invest offshore must obtain proper advice and ensure that they structure their affairs correctly. This will be an increased focus of attention going forward.

It is also important to remember that there is an Excon and Tax element to the SVDP. This version of the amnesty is not simple and there are various permutations that are open to prospective applicants. It is worthwhile to take professional advice to ensure that the optimal result is achieved.

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