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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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Meet Natasha Singh - the person that has just been signed on by Sars to go after wealthy taxpayers in SA

Published Oct 19, 2021


Natasha Singh has been called on by the South African Revenue Service (Sars) to “deal” with wealthy taxpayers in SA.

Sars is looking at individuals who have not been so transparent with their tax shelters and offshore investments.

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Singh is a chartered accountant with more than 20 years of experience and will be the new director of Sars’ High Wealth Individual (HWI) Segment.

She holds a Master’s Degree specialising in taxation and joins Sars from Eskom, where she served as Finance Executive: Group Insurance and Tax.

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Her appointment coincides with the recently released Pandora Papers.

According to Sars, it is their objective to make it easy and simple for taxpayers to comply with their legal obligations, and therefore, the appointment of Singh is of strategic importance to help improve the compliance of wealthy individuals with complex financial arrangements.

“I am deeply appreciative of and humbled by the rare privilege entrusted to me as the first Director of Sars’ High Wealth Individuals unit. I am a public servant at heart and a strong proponent of power of purpose. By marrying my passion for the public sector and hunger for purpose, I hope to honour and positively contribute to Sars’ Higher Purpose of serving the well-being of all South Africans,” Singh said.

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Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said: “We also acknowledge the likely challenges that may arise, or currently exist with regards to the tax affairs and tax obligations of individuals and their families. Wealthy Individuals tend to arrange their financial affairs in complex on- and off-shore structures, often masking their direct beneficial ownership and true income.”

Kieswetter added that the continuing revelations from global media regarding the financial transactions of high wealth individuals across the world is a matter that needs proper investigation by suitably qualified experts, such as Singh.

“While our initial selection includes about 1500 wealthy individuals and their related entities. To ensure focus, we will continue to extend our reach to include more individuals and families.

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“While Sars is committed to assisting taxpayers with their legal obligations, the organisation is equally determined to detect and deter non-compliance. In addition, Sars will not tolerate wilful non-compliance and will make it hard and costly for such taxpayers without fear or favour,” Kieswetter concluded.

Pandora Papers – Nowhere to hide? Some considerations for SA residents

1.9 million financial records were leaked, which revealed the offshore financial assets of many internationally well-known persons. This raised the question of whether the investments made by these persons are legal from a tax perspective?

Tax-wise, it provides South African residents who own investments offshore – or intend to own investments offshore in the future – with the opportunity to make sure that any investments they make are compliant with all applicable South African tax laws.

According to the law firm, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, the key issue for South African residents to appreciate is that under the Common Reporting Standard, it may be easier for Sars to obtain information regarding a South African resident’s offshore assets, including assets in so-called low-tax jurisdictions.

What does this mean? Ultimately, South Africans cannot hide assets through offshore structures.