SARS is stepping up its game in 2023

As SARS continues to expand its efforts towards tackling tax evasion, their big data-driven strategies for scrutinising returns are set to remain in full force this year. This approach ensures that any discrepancies or omissions come under the microscope of expert analysis and investigation. 

SARS has taken a proactive approach to ensure all taxpayers are doing their civic duty, with an array of measures designed to encourage those who may have been less than compliant in the past. Failing to abide by obligations under tax law comes at a price – so make sure you stay judiciously up-to-date! 

Tax authorities are levelling up their enforcement approach with the introduction of data analytics. Through analysis of existing information, they can now detect anomalies in tax compliance across South Africa – creating a heightened accountability amongst taxpayers while ensuring government revenue is generated more reliably than ever before. 

Taxpayers now enjoy the convenience of e-filing and online payment systems in their pursuit of fulfilling our civic obligation. The digital shift has provided a more user-friendly way to manage taxes with minimal hassle. 

SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter recently said the tax authority is on a journey of building a smart, modern SARS. By 2024 the group said it wants to be modernised – leveraging enabling technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to gather more data. 2023 will see similar moves. 

“As we are increasing and expanding the use of data…from a valuable source that supplements our vast third-party data repository enabling the detection of taxpayers and traders who do not comply,” said the commissioner. 

SARS has set out an ambitious five-year plan, with a strong focus on data analytics and rigorous action against non-compliance. The comprehensive strategy is designed to strengthen South Africa’s tax system and ensure responsible enforcement of compliance measures. 

The objectives include the following:

  • Providing clarity and certainty for taxpayers and traders of their obligations 
  • Making it easy for taxpayers and traders to comply with their obligations 
  • Detecting taxpayers and traders who do not comply and making non-compliance hard and costly
  • Developing a high-performing, diverse, agile, engaged and evolved workforce 
  • Increasing and expanding the use of data 
  • Modernising its systems to provide digital and streamlined online services 
  • Demonstrating effective resource stewardship to ensure efficient and quality outcomes
  • Working with and through stakeholders to improve the tax ecosystem 
  • Building trust within the public and confidence in the tax administration system  

Fuelled by extensive data insights, the tax authority has launched a determined campaign to root out financial non-compliance.  

In 2022, the Revenue Service is not accepting any deviations in regards to tax obligations. Every South African citizen will face scrutiny regardless of financial standing and status; ensuring compliance remains a top priority for all citizens.  

Despite this harsher stance, where non-compliance has been made harder and more costly, the revenue service has encouraged people to approach it and streamlined the systems used to file returns.  

SARS offers a Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) to help taxpayers expedite compliance and regularise their tax affairs. By coming forward voluntarily, taxpayers can receive assistance and advice from SARS. 

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