Taxman calls Malema a liar

2013-08-03 00:00

THE taxman has hit back at Julius Malema, labelling him a liar and taking the extraordinary step to publicly disclose taxpayer information that would ordinarily be deemed confidential.

Sars said it had addressed a letter to Malema and his lawyer, cautioning him to refrain from making “false public statements about the state of his tax affairs and his engagements with Sars”.

Sars saud it had given Malema 48 hours to rectify the following “false allegations” that:

• There was an agreement in principle between him and Sars to repay outstanding tax liabilities, and that this was breached by the taxman due to political interference;

• A request for a compromise was declined by Sars due to political interference; and

• Sars was part of a “concerted effort” to discredit Malema and caused the farm Schuilkraal to be sold to remove all means for him to generate an income.

In a statement, Sars said that not only had Malema refused “to correct his lies”, but had in fact repeated these.

Sars considered Malema’s comments as a “serious threat” to its integrity and it was therefore necessary to respond by invoking a provision of the law that allowed it to disclose taxpayer information that would otherwise be confidential. Sars repeated that no single person in its service could decide who to investigate, who to audit, who to settle tax debts with and who not to. It released three pages of Malema’s history with the taxman to demonstrate that the Economic Freedom Front leader had “shown a consistent disregard for his obligations as a taxpayer”.

Malema’s contraventions included:

• He failed to register as a taxpayer and consistently failed to submit income tax returns honestly and on time;

• He had until now failed to register his Ratanang Family Trust for tax purposes. SARS had to do it on his behalf;

• After Sars concluded how much tax Malema owed, and despite Malema having at least R4 million available at the time, he opted not to pay.

 Malema accepted that he owed Sars R16 million in tax, but had not offered to convert any of his assets towards settling his tax debt, it said. Malema had also failed the procedural requirements to qualify for a settlement for tax debt through his own design, and not because “somebody decided” so.

Malema last night said he had not received the letter from Sars and repeated that the taxma was trying to discredit him for political reasons. He said he knew who was behind this attempt, and neither he nor any of their other victims would allow themselves to be intimidated.

He promised a campaign to expose his detractors, saying this attempt would “explode in their faces”.

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