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South African Revenue Service
|Jurisdiction||Government of South Africa|
|Headquarters||Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa|
|Parent department||National Treasury (South Africa)|
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is the revenue service (tax-collecting agency) of the South African government. It was established by legislation to collect revenue and ensure compliance with tax law. Its vision is to be an innovative revenue and customs agency that enhances economic growth and social development, and supports South Africa's integration into the global economy in a way that benefits all citizens.
In accordance with the South African Revenue Service Act 34 of 1997, the service is an administratively autonomous organ of the state: it is outside the public service, but within the public administration. So although South Africa's tax regime is set by the National Treasury, it is managed by SARS.
SARS aims to provide an enhanced, transparent and client-orientated service to ensure optimum and equitable collection of revenue.
Its main functions are to:
SARS provides an online portal to individuals, tax practitioners and businesses via its SARS eFiling website.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2018)
Prior to the establishment of SARS, the tax collecting agency of South Africa was called the Receiver of Revenue. The first income tax act in South Africa was introduced in 1914.
Following South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy in the early 1990s, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) was established as an autonomous agency in terms of the South African Revenue Service Act 34 of 1997, responsible for administering the South African tax system and customs service.
Pravin Gordhan was appointed SARS Commissioner in 1999, holding the position until 2009, when he was announced as the country's Finance Minister. He was replaced by Oupa Magashula, who ultimately resigned in July 2013, "following the outcome of a fact-finding inquiry into allegations that he offered a chartered accountant a job at SARS". Magashula was replaced by the controversial Tom Moyane, who has been described as having been "willing to choose the interests of [President Jacob] Zuma and his cronies over those of the country."
With the revenue service continually missing its targets and being widely critiqued in the media, newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a "clean-up" at SARS in February 2018, which was to include the commissioning of an inquiry into the state of affairs at SARS. This inquiry was officially named the SARS Commission, but was widely reported by media as the "Nugent" Commission, after its chair, Justice Robert Nugent. Ramaphosa suspended Moyane on 19 March 2018, stating that "Developments at the SARS under your leadership have resulted in a deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised. For the sake of the country and the economy, this situation cannot be allowed to continue, or to worsen." Long-time SARS employee and former Acting Chief Officer of Business & Individual Tax Mark Kingon was appointed acting SARS Commissioner on 20 March 2018, and acted in the role until the appointment of a permanent commissioner. President Ramaphosa received the commission's interim report in September 2018, and dismissed Moyane on 1 November 2018, citing the report's recommendations.
The Presidency announced an independent selection panel, led by former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, to make recommendations on a permanent commissioner. The panel included Angela Bester, Justice Dennis Davis, Sindi Mabaso-Koyana, Ismail Momoniat, Thandi Orleyn and Fezekile Tshiqi, and the position was advertised from 16 December 2018 to 18 January 2019. President Ramaphosa named former SARS Deputy Commissioner and formed Alexander Forbes Chief Executive Edward Kieswetter as the new SARS Commissioner on 27 March 2019, with Kieswetter taking office on 1 May 2019.