Noose tightens on tax dodgers

court hoodAuthor: Philani Nombembe (Times Live)

Dodgy tax consultants are hitting the SA Revenue Service hard with more than R80-million in fraudulent claims filed during the past financial year.

This week the Cape Town Regional Court sentenced tax practitioner Zaida Johaar to four years in prison for income tax fraud.

The hefty sentence, despite Johaar being a first offender, underlines the new severity with which tax fraud is regarded.

This year’s tax season started yesterday.

Johaar, who worked for a “reputable auditing company”, moonlighted as a tax practitioner and inflated her clients’ claims against SARS, according to the National Prosecuting Authority.She was caught out after one of her clients alerted the revenue service after receiving an “unusually large” refund.

A SARS investigation revealed that she had submitted inflated claims for 42 people over two years. SARS lost more than R776000.”

In the case of six taxpayers, the accused, unbeknown to them, changed their bank details in order for the refunds to be paid into her bank account. She then transferred a reduced amount of the refund to the individual taxpayers’ accounts,” said Western Cape NPA spokesman Eric Ntabazalila.

SARS spokesman Marika Muller said the NPA was currently dealing with 20 tax fraud cases for the financial year that ended on March 31. She said 32 other cases had been reported to the police and 63 people had been arrested.

Said Muller: “These cases involved fraudulent personal income tax refunds of more than R80.6-million. To date, six cases have been successfully prosecuted.SARS also secured R61-million that was fraudulently deposited into bank accounts. A sum of R31.7-million had been fully recovered by the end of March.”