News24 Wire
Wire Service
3 minute read
1 Mar 2020
9:48 pm

Businessman Mark Lifman loses SCA appeal bid in tax row with SARS

News24 Wire

Lifman's objections to the assessments raised by SARS were filed 'belatedly and opportunistically'.

South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Edward Kieswetter during a press briefing held at SARS offices in Pretoria, 12 November 2019. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Edward Kieswetter is satisfied after judgment was handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissing with costs an application for leave to appeal by businessman Mark Lifman relating to his tax case against the service.

In 2019, Western Cape High Court Judge Elizabeth Baartman had dismissed Lifman’s application for an order to stop SARS’s execution orders, which would see the taxman seizing his assets and auctioning them off to recover an outstanding tax debt of R R352m excluding interest.

Judge Baartman found that Lifman’s objections to the assessments raised by SARS had been filed “belatedly and opportunistically”.

Lifman has persistently maintained that he is a victim of the so-called SARS “rogue unit”, and subsequently turned to the SCA.

However the SCA last week ruled that Lifman’s attempts to stop the taxman from seizing his assets to settle his outstanding debt were futile, and had no reasonable prospects of success, according to SARS on Sunday.

READ | Mark Lifman heads to SCA over SARS seizure ruling

SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter said in a statement on Sunday that the latest battle proved SARS was working hard to regain capacity lost over the past few years in recouping money from taxpayers.

Speaking to News24 about his appeal application in 2019 Lifman said, “All I want is a fair hearing. What are they hiding? Their intentions/actions are not tax collection or seeing me compliant.”

He added that SARS should engage with taxpayers, not “destroy them”.

In his SCA notice, Lifman provided five grounds for appeal, which included the judge’s interpretation around the provisions of the act.

Lifman and his lawyer did not answer phone calls or reply to text messages on Sunday evening for additional comment.

This latest ruling by the SCA follows a similar victory for the revenue service after businessman Gary van der Merwe lost his 10-year tax battle with SARS when the SCA ruled against him over his tax debt.

Kieswetter said: “I want to appeal to all taxpayers and traders to discharge their legal obligations of paying their fair share of taxes. SARS is committed to helping you to comply with your obligations and entrenching a culture of voluntary tax and customs compliance.”

The commissioner stated that there is a worrying trend that is growing among employers who deduct tax from their employees through Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) but fail to pay the money over to SARS.

“This development of PAYE non-compliance is a cause for concern and SARS is determined to take every action to stamp it out. The same applies to all other forms of non-compliance from other taxpayers and traders, whether they are in public institutions, private companies or individuals,” Kieswetter added.

“It is through such voluntary compliance and the associated revenue that SARS collects that our country will be able to provide basic services to the poorest of the poor, whether in the form of social grants, basic education, housing, medical care and other public goods.

“However, I want to warn those who seek to remain non-compliant through whatever means, that SARS will not rest until we recover what is due to the fiscus,” Kieswetter said.

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