Legit tobacco companies’ tax records are squeaky clean, association insists

Tobacco Institute of South Africa chair Francois van der Merwe has defended the institute’s member companies, saying none of its members have ever fallen foul of their tax obligations in South Africa.

Van der Merwe was speaking to Fin24 earlier this week after the Sunday Times reported that SARS was pursuing British American Tobacco South Africa for unpaid taxes.

In the Sunday Times article BATSA pushed back against the allegations, saying that it was in fact SARS that owed the tobacco company R30m in tax refunds.

Van der Merwe spoke to Fin24 on Sunday, denying all claims of wrongdoing against BAT. Van der Merwe further told Fin24 that all the member companies of Tisa were compliant with tax law right down to the letter.

"This is between tax payer and tax collector. Tisa represents the legal industry in SA, all members are accredited and no member has ever been found to be non-compliant with any law in SA," said Van der Merwe.

Van der Merwe said Tisa had become aware of "dirty tactics by illicit operators to distract the attention away from the real story" of illicit cigarette trade, which cost SA at least R8bn this year.

"You might have seen that BAT has to shed 300 jobs due to lower volumes shifting to the illicit operators who do not pay taxes and can therefore put their products on the market dirt cheap[ly]," Van der Merwe said.

Asked for comment on the ongoing disagreement between SARS and BATSA, SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela told Fin24 that the tax body could not legally divulge sensitive information about a tax payer in public. Tisa member companies referred Fin24 to the institute.

ZAR/USD
17.00
(-0.09)
ZAR/GBP
21.24
(-0.12)
ZAR/EUR
19.14
(-0.13)
ZAR/AUD
11.81
(-0.13)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(-0.20)
Gold
1774.74
(+0.03)
Silver
18.05
(+0.01)
Platinum
808.00
(+0.25)
Brent Crude
42.78
(-0.79)
Palladium
1914.01
(+0.62)
All Share
54521.90
(-0.17)
Top 40
50179.89
(-0.26)
Financial 15
10150.02
(-0.64)
Industrial 25
76554.73
(+0.52)
Resource 10
50138.02
(-1.24)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'm not really directly affected
18% - 1592 votes
I am taking a hit, but should be able to recover in the next year
23% - 2084 votes
My finances have been devastated
35% - 3129 votes
It's still too early to know what the full effect will be
25% - 2257 votes
Vote