The beginning of 2017 has been a rough year for SARS as they have fallen into hot water, once again. In March of 2017, rumours started circulating that SARS was holding VAT refunds to boost its tax collection figures. This means that many people have not received their much-awaited tax returns that were meant to be paid out in February.
Members of parliament have questioned SARS about its revenue collection figures, as well as the issue of outstanding VAT refunds and its tax collection system. SARS denied the claims that it was holding any money back, and said that there is a specific process in place that is being followed by the Revenue Service before the tax refunds can be paid out.
According to the acting chief officer, Firdous Sallie, all assessments that are submitted to SARS have to go through a rigid process. “On the one hand we have to ensure refunds are paid out timeously, but on the other hand we must make sure it stands up to the test of not being a fraudulent VAT claim,” Sallie said.
SARS owed vendors a total of R19.6bn in VAT refunds that had to be paid out by the end of February 2017. The outstanding total of VAT claims during the period of March 2016 and February 2017 was 343 674, of which 43 650 claims were not refunded by March 2017. The value of VAT refunds that has not been audited yet is totalled at R17.3bn.
Sallie confirmed that 89% of the VAT submissions that had been received by SARS had been paid out timeously. She also calls for everyone to submit the specified documentation on time, ensure that there are no duplicates, ensure that all the third party data is available, and to check for any discrepancies. “You too can become part of the 89% that receives a VAT refund within 14 days,” Sallie concluded.
With our status downgrade, it is important that South Africans claim their VAT returns, in order to ensure that they can keep their head above water when interest rates make it even harder to afford their vehicle and home loan repayments.