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SARS launches list of financial terms in all 11 official languages

Published Mar 17, 2022


This week the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Edward Kieswetter, launched the SARS Multilingual Terminology List, which contains 450 terms in all official languages (English already existing): Sesotho, Setswana, Sepedi, Tshivenḓa, Xitsonga, IsiNdebele, Siswati, IsiZulu, IsiXhosa and Afrikaans. The list covers a wide spectrum of financial terminology, including terms pertaining to tax, wills and general finance.

At the launch, Kieswetter committed the organisation to promoting the use of historically marginalised official languages in the tax and customs environment.

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He set the scene by quoting the Constitution: “The preamble of the Constitution of South Africa reminded the audience about the impact of language. We, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past; honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”

He said that “through this initiative SARS is striving to provide greater clarity and certainty to its taxpayers in all 11 official languages that would promote social justice and fundamental human rights”.

The Use of Official Languages Act was signed into law in 2013. The Act provides for the regulation and monitoring of the use of official languages by national government for government purposes. It further requires the adoption of a language policy and the establishment of a language unit for national departments, national public entities and national public enterprises.

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SARS adopted such a language policy in 2015 and is presently implementing the policy. The SARS Language Services Unit was established with a mandate to make a concerted effort to develop the previously marginalised languages. It also supports the Taxpayer and Traders Education initiative as it goes to communities to educate taxpayers in their own language about the importance of tax compliance.

In a press release, SARS said: “We acknowledge and commend this progressive piece of work done by more than 140 contributors in realising this milestone. We acknowledge the efforts of this diverse team and convey our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and the Pan South African Language Board and the SARS team.”

Kieswetter said: “The work we do at SARS touches the lives of all citizens, especially the poor and vulnerable, through the revenue we collect which enables government to provide basic services such as social grants, education and health care. All South Africans must understand this vital role that SARS plays. There is no better way to create this understanding than by speaking to our compatriots in their own language so that our work touches their hearts, as stated by Madiba.”

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You can access the newly published SARS Mutlilingual Terminology List here.

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