South African Revenue Service (SARS) Halts Controversial Tax Prosecution SMS Campaign

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has taken a step back, suspending the controversial SMS campaign that had caused an uproar among taxpayers earlier this week. The messages warned of potential prosecution for failure to file tax returns, leaving many frustrated and inconvenienced individuals in its wake.

In an official statement released on Thursday, SARS acknowledged the shortcomings of the messages, stating, “The SMS that was sent out earlier this week, in relation to outstanding returns fell short of the high professional standard we seek to uphold. SARS therefore sincerely apologises for the manner in which this matter was handled, the frustration it may have caused honest taxpayers, and any inconvenience caused.”

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SARS clarified that the intention behind the SMS campaign was to serve as a reminder to taxpayers about their legal obligation to file their tax returns promptly. However, they emphasized that legal action is not their immediate course of action, stating, “SARS does not commence legal action before engaging with taxpayers.”

To determine if a company is required to file a return, SARS outlined specific criteria, including a gross income exceeding R1,000, ownership of assets or liabilities valued at over R1,000, capital gains or losses exceeding R1,000, and meeting other tax-related thresholds.

SARS underlined the importance of compliance and stated, “Unfortunately, SARS’ reminders are ignored by some taxpayers, which means that their situation escalates to levels where legal action may be required. Even then, they are reminded about their obligation to file the outstanding returns.”

The organization emphasized that taxpayers hold the responsibility to regularize their tax affairs and that engagement with taxpayers on outstanding returns would occur at the appropriate time. SARS warned, “taxpayers who continue to ignore reminders and fail

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