Parliament must probe SARS’ role in Gupta-linked VAT refunds: DA

File: Sunday media reports implicated SARS in fraudulent claims by people linked to the controversial Gupta family. Photo: eNCA

CAPE TOWN – While the South African Revenue Service (SARS) was putting jobs at risk by delaying VAT refunds to small businesses, it appears that SARS might have overlooked, "perhaps deliberately", fraudulent VAT claims in the region of R100-million submitted by Gupta-linked people, the DA said on Sunday.

It follows Sunday media reports that implicated the revenue collector in the fraudulent claims. 

"This simply indicates that the SARS systems are either not working or have deliberately been subverted by insiders at SARS," DA spokesman Alf Lees said.

The DA wants the chairman of Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrin to ask the parliamentary legal services for an opinion regarding the part of the Tax Administration Act that stops details of fraudulent tax matters that are already in the public domain, from being disclosed. 

WATCH: Tom Moyane flouted law to appease Guptas: report

Questions must be asked "as to how the members and/or directors of Shaz Trading could have amassed the array of assets that are listed in the media report and amount to in excess of the R61.8-million allegedly frozen by the Asset Forfeiture unit," Lees said.

These assets include nine houses in Centurion, watches worth R5.2-million, a farm, and four other houses. The DA said the enormous wealth in assets indicate Shaz Trading was so successful it was able to pay its members/directors – members of the Joosab family – enormous salaries, directors' fees, or dividends. This did not seem plausible, Lees said, and the DA wants to know whether SARS had done lifestyle audits.

In 2017, the Tax Ombud revealed SARS had been delaying VAT and other tax refunds. 

READ: Hawks must probe Guptas' 'suspicious' tax refund: DA

"While SARS was putting jobs at risk by delaying VAT refunds to small businesses, it now appears that SARS simply seems to have overlooked, perhaps deliberately, fraudulent VAT claims in the region of R100-million submitted by Gupta-linked, and suspiciously very wealthy, persons," Lees said.

"There will no doubt be the standard SARS response about taxpayer confidentiality when we raise the reported R100-million fraudulent VAT refunds with the Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene, but we would fail in our constitutional responsibility if we do not raise it."

African News Agency

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