Finance Minister will amend SARS Act once Nugent inquiry wraps up

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene will delay introducing draft legislation containing amendments to the SARS Act pending the outcomes of the Nugent Commission’s inquiry into the tax authority’s governance, Parliament heard.

National Treasury's head of tax and financial sector policy Ismail Momoniat on Thursday updated the Standing Committee on Finance on policy developments. He as well as other Treasury representatives had briefed the committee earlier on the draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill and the Draft Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill.

Although not dealt with in the draft bills discussed, Momoniat gave an update on the developments regarding the SARS Act.

Former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had announced in this year’s National Budget intentions to introduce draft legislation to improve the accountability of SARS to the finance minister. This was on the recommendation of the Davis Tax Committee’s report on tax administration published last year, Momoniat explained.

“The minister of finance (Nhlanhla Nene) has decided rather than proceed with the draft legislation (of the SARS Act), he wants to await findings of the Nugent Commission,” Momoniat said.

The Nugent Commission is expected to finalise its report at the end of November. This means that the draft legislation will be introduced next year, not this year, Momoniat said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in the State of the Nation Address the inquiry into SARS’ administration and governance – in an effort to restore the institution’s credibility and its ability to meet revenue targets.

The inquiry, headed by Judge Robert Nugent, kicked off at the end of June. Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan is among those who presented evidence so far.

The commission most recently received evidence on SARS’ so-called “rogue unit”. Judge Nugent did not confirm to News24 if allegations of the rogue unit will be considered in the inquiry.

Hearings resume next week.

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