The country’s 34 000 tax advisers owe more than R260 million in tax and have 18 000 income tax returns outstanding in their personal capacities, Pravin Gordhan, the Minister of Finance, revealed this week.

“If that is their attitude to their own tax compliance, one shudders to think what advice they are giving to their clients,” the minister commented.

Stiaan Klue, the chief executive of the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners (SAIT), says various professional bodies have called on the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to report to them, as they are entitled to do in terms of the Income Tax Act, any tax practitioner who is not in compliance with the law, but to date, nothing has been forthcoming from SARS.

“Maybe the minister should also reprimand his commissioner for not acting on the call to join hands to get rid of the bad apples in the system,” he says.

Professional associations can act only if SARS comes forward with a complaint, Klue says, adding that SAIT requires tax practitioners to annually submit a tax clearance certificate to renew membership.