Taxpayers still mistrust Sars due to government corruption – Outa
Changes at Sars over the past few years have not done much to transform how South Africans feel about the tax man.
Despite improving its systems and collection, South African taxpayers still mistrust Sars due to government corruption and blame the revenue authority for collecting taxes that government squanders and allows to be stolen.
These are the views in a social media snap survey of corporate taxpayers, by civil organisation Outa, which indicates Sars still has a way to go to gain their trust. Outa asked the question on its social media channels about what the entity must do to regain public trust.
The social media users were overwhelmingly critical of Sars as the collector of revenue that hands over these funds to what is strongly believed to be a corrupt government. People linked their distrust of Sars to government looting although, as several responders pointed out, Sars does not control the spending and the main problem lies with government misspending our taxes.
“There is no trust deficit with Sars. The problem is the crooks stealing the money in government,” @ankeliwarona said.
“Get rid of corruption. Sars collects and then hands it over to criminals and incompetents. As long as that continues I will resent and fight Sars. Sars is the enforcer of the mafia state,” @ChrisGibbonsSA said.
@VimleshRajbansi wants digital systems to track the revenue Sars collects when it is disbursed, while @Bazinga757 called for Sars to create “cost centres” and “attach payment milestones to approved projects, instead of handover billions of rands to corrupt departments”.
“Arrest all the crooked politicians who have stolen billions,” @Petar_DRC says while @AmbercommOne wants to know “Why has Paul Mashatile, Edwin Soni and Julius Malema not been prosecuted for tax evasion and under reporting?”.
“Trust is earned. Right now, our revenue collection service represents the very people that misappropriate public funds. Taxpayers feel that their hard earned money is thrown into this endless pit of corruption. Why should people feel good about paying taxes?” @AurigenZA said.
This is how Sars can get us to trust it again
Those responding to the Outa query called for lifestyle audits for politicians, investigations into high-profile people who were publicly linked to dubious behaviour, accountability on spending, higher taxes for the super-rich, faster refunds and better communication with businesses over registering for VAT, PAYE and UIF.
There were calls to end tax evasion by illicit trading (cigarette dealers being the most obvious) and a need for Sars to broaden the tax base, including in the taxi industry, while there was also a view that Sars should go beyond our borders and also look for missing money in foreign countries, such as in the UAE.
Some also suggested that government provide tax incentives through Sars for citizens who have to pay extra for security companies to make them feel safe, generate their own power, introduce water recycling systems, get life-saving medical treatments that government cannot provide and pay school fees.
“They punish those who declare and pay. Let the crooks go. Very shocking system,” @seja2000 said.
“Sars is merely a revenue collection agency of a government which proved to be systemically corrupt. It cannot earn trust on behalf of a failed government,” @JamesSpies12 added.
“Overall, what comes across very strongly is that Sars is a government institution and is the entity that demands payment from the public and then hands this over to a government that is notorious for maladministration, wasteful and corrupt expenditure. It will, unfortunately, be tarred with the same brush of mistrust which the public applies to the government at large,” Outa says.
“Sars could do more to earn the public trust if it is seen to improve tax collections from known corruption perpetrators and sectors known for evasion. While recent efforts by Sars and the police leading to arrests and charges against illicit coal contractors to Eskom suggests there is movement in this regard, the entity has a long way to go with similar matters on a broader scale to improve public trust.”