Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has urged tax practitioners to assist government in efforts to get taxpayers to pay their fair share.
“We encourage you as tax professionals to help us send the message that individuals and businesses should obey the law, disclose their offshore assets and pay their fair share before they are caught out,” he said.
Addressing the 2017 Tax Indaba at the Sandton Convention Centre in Gauteng on Monday, Minister Gigaba said as long as some taxpayers remain non-compliant, there will have to be corresponding tax policy amendments to uphold the integrity of the tax system.
“This creates a complicated tax regime, where even five days [of the indaba] may be insufficient to discuss the many tax policy areas that have been subjected to change in recent years. Government does endeavour to remain highly consultative with the public on tax policy changes and welcomes the oversight that Parliament provides,” said the Minister.
Minister Gigaba said the tax system developed by South Africa is critical to the country’s development agenda.
“The topic of taxation will always be high on the agenda for taxpayers of all types, regardless of where we find ourselves in the economic cycle. Yet with the past few years of below par growth and the need for government to raise additional revenues, greater interest has been taken in tax policy and the changes required to meet those revenue requirements.
“Although the flexibility of the tax system is key to achieving a sustainable fiscal position, higher economic growth must remain as the main objective to reach the levels of social development that this country deserves.”
Minister Gigaba said government alone cannot reach the levels of social development that are required by the country. The positive actions of business, labour, communities and individuals are vital to setting the country on an improved growth path for the benefit of all, the Minister said.
“Such positive actions would not only be reflected through additional investment or improved productivity, but also through appropriate taxpayer behaviour. The tax revenues that are collected keep this country running, paying for social upliftment and poverty alleviation through grants and the multitude of services that the government provides, much of which benefits the most vulnerable in our society.”
The Minister said tax morality plays a significant role in the success of a country and that government recognises that this is closely linked to the efficient use of resources and a reduction in corruption.
“Government needs to do its part in showing the taxpayers’ money is used wisely, that efforts are taken to reduce wasteful expenditure and that taxpayers are treated fairly,” said the Minister.
In July, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) urged taxpayers to file their returns on time. Non-provisional taxpayers who eFile or submit their returns electronically at a SARS branch have until 24 November 2017 to file. Provisional taxpayers who eFile have until 31 January 2018 to submit their returns. Manual submissions through the post or at SARS drop boxes must be made by 22 September 2017