R20m tax bill for Malema
EFF leader Julius Malema is again in trouble with the SA Revenue Service (Sars), and the possibility of being sequestrated looms large for him.
This time, Sars wants about R20 million from Malema – R18m it claimed was for arrears on his taxes and a further R2m in interest. This is for the 2005 to 2011 tax years.
Last year, the taxman cancelled an agreement it had entered into with Malema pertaining to the terms and conditions under which he was to pay off his debt.
It claims Malema had failed to come to the table, “by not complying with the conditions of the agreement”.
But the firebrand politician turned to the high court in Pretoria yesterday, asking for an order that the agreement he entered into with Sars in May 2014 was binding.
Malema argued he had settled his full debt and “does not owe a cent” to the taxman.
His advocate, Piet Louw SC, asked Judge Mabel Jansen to order that “Malema had fully adhered to the terms of the agreement and declare that he had settled all his compromised debt”.
Sars, however, said it was not bound by the agreement and claimed, among others, that Malema had not been frank regarding all his assets. It said Malema did not declare a Polokwane property he took possession of in 2009.
Malema countered that the deal never went through and he never bought the property – a vacant piece of land. He said he told Sars about this failed deal back in 2012.
Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett SC, acting for Sars, said that in 2014 Malema paid the municipality in Polokwane R70 000 in arrears towards rates and taxes for the property.
Louw said Malema was due to fight a general election at the time and simply paid the amount to get the debt collectors off his back.
“He always disputed the bill and said he would later take this up.”
Sars also claimed that Malema owed outstanding taxes for the year 2011/12. It further disputed funds which Malema declared to be donations (not taxable).
Gauntlett said that as Malema did not adhere to all the conditions of the agreement, it meant that “the game was over”. He said Sars was in the business of collecting funds for the public fiscus. “It does not sell cheese burgers.”
It was also important, he said, for Sars to know where the money Malema used to pay part of his tax debt with came from. “This is important to Sars as Sars wants the money to be above board.”
Malema questioned how Sars could unilaterally withdraw the agreement, keep the money he had paid and hold him liable for the original assessments.
Stoney-faced, he ignored the media and mostly consulted with his lawyers.
Sars refused to make the court papers available to the media, saying that it “cannot be seen to run a parallel process with the court”.
Judgment was reserved.