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South Africa Begins Tax, Exchange Control Amnesties

by Lorys Charalambous, Tax-News.com, Cyprus

09 November 2010


As was first announced during the 2010 budget speech this year, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has confirmed that individuals and businesses who have defaulted on their tax obligations, and those who have contravened exchange control regulations, now have the opportunity to regularize their affairs by way of a Voluntary Disclosure Programme (VDP).

From this month to October 31, 2011, taxpayers may come forward to disclose their defaults. Successful applicants will have to pay the full amount of tax due but will not be faced with additional tax, interest, penalties (excluding administrative penalties for the late submission of returns and late payments of tax) and possible criminal prosecution.

In addition, the tax VDP allows for prospective applicants to make an initial “no-name” disclosure in order to obtain a non-binding opinion from SARS as to whether the applicant would qualify for relief, and the extent of any such relief.

The minimum requirements for relief under the tax VDP are that the disclosure is complete in all material respects and made in the prescribed form and manner before October 31, 2011; that SARS was not aware of the default, which must have occurred prior to February 17, 2010; and that a penalty or additional tax would have been imposed had SARS discovered the default in the normal course of business.

In terms of the exchange control VDP, which will be administered by the South African Reserve Bank’s Financial Surveillance Division (FinSurv), successful applicants will benefit from administrative relief, and no further action will be taken or initiated against them by FinSurv, in respect of the full disclosures made pertaining to any exchange control contraventions.

The minimum requirements for relief under the exchange control VDP are that the applicant must have contravened the exchange control regulations prior to February 28, 2010; and that the applicant must submit an application form before October 31, 2010, including full details of the description of all foreign assets, in which the applicant has or has had any direct and/or indirect interest, their location, market value and proof of valuation.

Applicants who are already under audit or investigation by SARS or FinSurv will only qualify for relief under specific circumstances.

While this window of opportunity is being offered to all persons with tax defaults and exchange control contraventions, it was confirmed that those who choose not to apply remain at risk of detection by SARS and FinSurv. In such cases, as SARS said, “the law will take its course”.

TAGS: individuals | South Africa | compliance | tax | business | tax compliance | law | corporation tax | enforcement | legislation | regulation | penalties | individual income tax | Africa

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