BATSA has announced that it would commit its full R30m tax rebate to the #TakeBackTheTax initiative fighting the illegal trade in cigarettes. Picture: Adnan Abidi / Reuters

JOHANNESBURG - British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) has announced that it would commit its full R30 million tax rebate to the #TakeBackTheTax initiative fighting the illegal trade in cigarettes.

The #TakebackTheTax initiative is an activists-led campaign to implore the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Parliament, and law enforcement agencies to act with urgency and take decisive steps to fight the illicit tobacco trade.  

The campaign argues that the South African economy loses R8 billion to the trade of illegal cigarettes every year

In a statement on Sunday, BATSA said it expected to receive the rebate from SARS for overpaid taxes shortly after collecting and paying more than R9.1 billion in taxes in South Africa last year.
 
The tobacco company said the money would be committed directly to tackling the massive illegal trade in cigarettes allegedly being run by billionaire crime bosses.
 
Johnny Moloto for BATSA said the money would be allocated to the successful #TakeBackTheTax initiative.
 
“#TakeBackTheTax has shone a light on the illegal activities of these criminal billionaires who are robbing South Africans and we are proud to continue supporting it," Moloto said.

"We are also highly encouraged by the actions that have been taken by the new SARS leadership in cracking down on this illegal trade after years of deliberate neglect."
 
The Nugent Commission heard, directly, that SARS was deliberately neutered to allow illegal cigarette manufacturers to break the law with impunity and leech billions of rands every year out of the pockets of South Africans.
 
"BATSA was not a beneficiary of this corruption by rogue SARS agents. It, like all other taxpayers in South Africa, was a target. We are the only local tobacco manufacturer in the country that declares all our production and pays all our taxes," Moloto said.
 
Meanwhile, BATSA said that reports that it owes R143 million to tax authorities were false.

"We don’t owe any money for underpaying tax. We are, in fact, owed money for overpaying. That is why we are due this R30 million rebate," Moloto said.

- African News Agency (ANA)