The Commissioner of the South African Revenue Services (SARS), Tom Moyane

CAPE TOWN - The revenue authority is committed to achieving the increased revenue target for the 2017/18 financial year, said the commissioner of the South African Revenue Services (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane on Thursday.

The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, on Wednesday, increased the anticipated revenue that has to be collected for the fiscus by end of March from R1 214.7-billion to R1 217.3-billion. 

"This is a marginal increase of R2.6 billion and stems from improved company and trade taxes collected since the last quarter of 2017," Sars said.

Moyane added that South Africa's sovereign debt levels have increased to 53.3% of GDP. The cost of servicing this large debt of R163.2bn, one of the fastest growing line items on the government expenditure framework, is stripping away revenue from much needed social imperatives faced by our nation.

Late in 2017, Moyane said he was confident that Sars will claw back as much as possible of the R50.8 billion revenue shortfall, through a number of programmes and initiatives they are implementing.

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According to Moyane, the revenue authority has put in place the necessary regional revenue management structures to track taxpayer compliance down to granular level and the results are proving to be positive. 

"We are working much smarter with greater intensity to close any revenue gaps and leakages," he said.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa, during his State of the Nation Address (Sona) has pledged to launch a Commission of Inquiry into tax administration and governance at Sars. The taxman welcomed this call as it will assist the institution's employees and its leadership to identify additional areas which seek focus and improvement.

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The taxman has recently decided that it's time for it to investigate the religious community for non-compliance with the country’s tax laws.

Sars said while it acknowledged that most religious organisations operated within the law, some were enriching themselves at the expense of the fiscus. It said its own investigation and several interactions with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) confirmed that there was massive non-compliance in the sector.

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-BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE