Moyane says he believes his decision to restructure Sars led to the tax authority collecting more than one-trillion rand for the first time in its history. PICTURED: Tom Moyane
CAPE TOWN - Unwarranted and unsubstantiated attacks on the South African Revenue Service (SARS) could sabotage the economy and were resulting in a deterioration in tax compliance, SARS commissioner Tom Moyane warned in Parliament on Tuesday.
Any loss of confidence in the tax authority would jeopardise the achievement of tax targets for 2016-17, Moyane said, briefing the standing committee on finance about SARS’s quarterly performance for the period to the end of December.
Moyane said frequent negative comments about SARS in the media were extremely damaging to SARS as an institution. They portrayed an inaccurate picture, insinuating that the organisation was falling apart.
If revenue collection was compromised, it would damage the country, he said.
The "onslaught" was beginning to have a negative effect on taxpayers’ confidence in the tax system.
"We are seeing the beginning of a disturbing trend whereby tax compliance levels are beginning to deteriorate.
"We are already contending with dire local and global economic conditions that have an impact on our economy and our revenue-collection ability. The drop in confidence in SARS is clearly noticeable", from the heightened engagements with taxpayers that took place at the end of the tax year.
"Any compliance drop would have a negative impact on the attainment of the 2016-17 tax revenue estimate," Moyane said. "It has the potential to affect adversely the overall fiscal framework of South Africa."
The significant downturn in the economy had required a revision of the tax revenue target for the year and was not due to SARS’s lack of capability.
Moyane said the damaging comments had a negative effect on the morale of SARS staff.
"This tale of SARS having lost all its technical competence will play itself out as a self-fulfilling prophecy as many of our staff are highly marketable and will not tolerate their reputations being impugned in this manner."
Moyane took issue with the timing of the briefing as it coincided with the most critical period of the SARS calendar, when its tax-collection efforts were at their most intense. "Being here places a huge burden because it is defocusing us on the work at hand," Moyane said.