Amendments to the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme

Author: Mareli Treurnicht. On 24 February 2016 the Minister of Finance announced the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP) as part of the 2016 Budget Speech. On the same date, the draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill (First Draft Revenue Laws Bill) and the draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws (Administration) Bill were released. These bills contained the proposed provisions in respect of the SVDP. Following input from the public, National Treasury released the amended draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill (Second Draft Revenue Laws Bill) and the amended draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws (Administration) Bill (Second Draft Revenue Laws Administration Bill) on 19 July 2016. An Explanatory Memorandum and a media statement on the SVDP accompanied these bills.

Exchange control circular issued in respect of special voluntary disclosure programme

Author: Mareli Treurnicht. On 13 July 2016 the Financial Surveillance Department (FinSurv) of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) issued exchange control circular no. 6/2016 (Circular) regarding details and information required in an application for exchange control relief submitted as part of the joint tax and exchange control Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP) which was announced by the Minister of Finance in the 2016 Budget Speech.

Section 104 of the Tax Administration Act and the meaning of ‘exceptional circumstances’ – a cautionary tale

Author: Heinrich Louw (Senior Associate). In terms of s104 of the Tax Administration Act, No 28 of 2011 (Act), a taxpayer who is aggrieved by an assessment or decision of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), may object to the assessment or decision. The Act states that the objection must be lodged within 30 business days from the date of the assessment. A senior SARS official may extend this period by no more than 21 business days, unless the official “…is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist which gave rise to the delay in lodging the objection”.

Special voluntary disclosure programme: is the carrot big enough or will taxpayers risk facing the stick?

A special voluntary disclosure programme (Special VDP) was announced on 24 February 2016 by the Minister of Finance in the 2016 Budget Speech, which is intended to provide further relief to qualifying persons in addition to the relief provided by the standard voluntary disclosure programme under the Tax Administration Act, No 28 of 2011 (TAA). On 12 April 2016, National Treasury (Treasury) released a media statement in which the public is requested to make formal submissions on draft legislation that sets out the legal framework of the Special VDP.

SARS MEDIA STATEMENT – Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme in respect of offshore assets and income

In the 2016 Budget Speech, the Minister of Finance announced a Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme to give opportunity for non-compliant taxpayers to voluntarily disclose offshore assets and income. With a new global standard for the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities providing SARS with additional information from 2017, time is now running out for taxpayers who still have undisclosed assets abroad. To encourage compliance, Government proposes a Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme for individuals and companies to regularise both their tax and exchange control affairs for a limited window period described below. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) are working jointly to ensure that applications for the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme are assessed through one joint process for both tax non-compliance and exchange control contraventions.

New rules for international cooperation on taxpayer’s affairs

Author: Ferdie Schneider (BDO). Greater transparency will expose undeclared offshore accounts Globalisation has dramatically increased cross-border financial activities.This necessitated enhanced co-operation and understanding between tax authorities to curb tax evasion and to ensure a fair allocation of taxes among the jurisdictions in which the activities take place. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) developed a Common Reporting Standard (CRS) for the automatic exchange of information relevant to tax. Over 50 jurisdictions have agreed to comply with the CSR, including South Africa, committing to exchange data in September 2017. Other jurisdictions will participate from 2018. 

Voluntary disclosure relief to be widened

Author: Ruaan van Eeden (Director at Cliffe Dekker Hoffmeyr The Tax Administration Act, No 28 of 2011 (TAA) currently provides for various forms of relief in respect of disclosures made by qualifying taxpayers of their tax defaults under the Voluntary Disclosure Programme (VDP). The recently published Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill 2015 (TALAB) makes a welcome proposal to widen the scope of available relief to qualifying taxpayers, to include any penalties relating to the late payment of tax.

South African Revenue Service – Voluntary Disclosure Programme

On 9 July 2015 the South African Revenue Service (“SARS“) issued a media statement informing allSouth African resident taxpayers, who hold foreign bank accounts, that an investigation was underway and taxpayers were therefore requested to make use of its Voluntary Disclosure Programme(“VDP“) to regularise their tax affairs. If you have a foreign bank account, and have used that bank account to evade your local or international tax obligations, you have until 12 August 2015 to declare this information under the VDP,after which time SARS will start their auditing process.