Mark Lifman (right) File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Outstanding tax payments of R352 million now have to be paid by businessman and suspected underworld kingpin Mark Lifman and 36 close corporations, companies and trusts he held an interest in.

Lifman on Tuesday lost his latest case against the SA Revenue Service (Sars) to prevent it.

Western Cape High Court Judge Elizabeth Baartman said Lifman had been opportunistic in attempting to suspend a Sars execution.

Judge Baartman on Tuesday dismissed the 37 applicants’ stay of execution application against Sars assessments into late filing of tax and VAT returns, saying the money was due and payable.

According to court papers, Sars had in 2014 launched an enquiry to investigate suspected non-compliance and/or offences committed by Lifman and his business interests.

Presiding officer of the enquiry Piet Marais SC, a member of the Pretoria Society of Advocates, had at the time imposed a fine of R180 000 on Lifman for his alleged failure to, among others, supply information.

Midway through the enquiry some applicants had submitted outstanding income tax and VAT returns, and Sars had levied a tax liability of R13.2m against six of the applicants.

In March 2015, pursuant to evidence gathered from the enquiry, Sars had issued letters to the applicants indicating further tax liabilities.

The applicants had 21 days to respond, but they did not, Judge Baartman’s judgment read.

On April 1, 2015 Sars had obtained civil judgments and warrants of execution against the applicants’ movable property.

The applicants then launched an urgent application seeking the setting aside of the judgments or their suspension, and interdicting Sars.

In a stay of execution application to the Western Cape High Court, Lifman alleged that he had on more than one occasion complained that Sars officials had acted in an untoward manner.

Judge Baartman found the complaint about treatment at the hands of Sars officials was no ground for a review.

“The applicants have not indicated where they laid the complaint that would have initiated the complaint mechanism provided for in the Tax Administration Act.

“Each assessment was preceded by letters of finding issued to the relevant applicant in 2015-2016, indicating the tax debt Sars intended to raise and the facts relied upon for its conclusion.

“The amounts, totalling R352 235 074.28, were such that one would have expected the applicants to have availed themselves of any opportunity to dispute the proposed assessments,” the judgment read.

Section 106 of the Tax Administration Act provides, among others, that Sars must consider a valid objection within a certain timeframe.

“The applicants did not lodge any objection to initiate any of the (Sars) mechanisms.

‘‘Instead, it seems that the initial dissatisfaction was about treatment received which the applicants have belatedly and opportunistically sought to raise to an objection against the assessments.

‘‘That is not permissible; it follows on this ground, the application must also fail.

“The assessments are undisputed, final, due and payable... This application appears to be an abuse of the process.”

Lifman, currently abroad, said he would apply for leave to appeal by the end of this week.

Commenting on the judgment, Lifman said he felt the court unfairly found in favour of Sars.

According to Lifman his assets value did not exceed R100 million.

“How will I pay nearly R400 million? We are definitely appealing,” Lifman said.

Cape Times