Cape Town – Judge Dennis Davis who heads up the Davis Tax Committee has attacked and affronted the South African Revenue Service and therefore there has been a breakdown in trust, said Commissioner Tom Moyane on Tuesday.
SARS briefed the standing committee on finance in Parliament on the organisation’s quarterly report ended 31 December, while Moyane responded to a number of burning questions from members of Parliament.
David Maynier, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of finance, asked Moyane to respond to a number of issues, such as his earlier statement that Davis was no longer fit to serve on the specialist tax committee.
Maynier put it to Moyane that the “breakdown of trust” between SARS and Davis was due to the Revenue Service resisting an investigation by the committee into SARS’ systems and operations.
“You’re resisting the Committee’s investigation into tax administration. For a period of several months they’ve (the committee) tried to make contact with you so that the investigation can proceed.”
Moyane categorically denied this, saying any allegations that it has hindered or resisted an investigation are simply untrue.
The SARS commissioner’s grievances about the Davis Tax Committee are on the back of statements attributed to Davis at a conference on tax evasion and illicit financial flows held earlier this year.
Davis was reportedly saying that SARS was at the risk of imploding and that the drop in personal income tax collection was a “red flag”.
SARS subsequently issued a statement in which it accused Davis of behaving in a manner that could be “perceived as advocating a veiled strategy to undermine the SARS leadership, which could result in a lack of public confidence in the tax authority”.
Moyane said on Tuesday that Davis never asked for his permission in his capacity as SARS commissioner before making the statements. It was an attack and affront to the organisation and we could not keep quiet about it.
In addition, Maynier asked Moyane to give an update on the investigation into the suspended Revenue Services head Jonas Makwakwa after R1.3m suspiciously entered his bank accounts and that of his girlfriend, SARS employee Kelly-Ann Elskie.
Moyane said the investigation is ongoing and that there is no “final outcome” yet. “We’ll have to leave it to the investigation. The period for which he is being investigated runs from 2010 until 2016 and it requires an in-depth investigation.”
Maynier also asked Moyane whether any disciplinary action was taken against one of SARS’ employees Luther Lebelo who wrote a letter in his capacity as a member of the Progressive Professionals Forum lashing out against rating agencies and the ANC.
In his letter, published in Business Day in November 2016, Lebelo claimed rating agencies “are nothing but organised economic gangs" and must be seen in the context of “fear-mongering colonialism”.
In his response, Moyane said South Africa is a constitutional democracy and that Lebelo was entitled to freedom of speech. “The fact that he is employed by SARS doesn’t mean he can’t speak openly about things. He was expressing his own personal opinion and not that of SARS.”Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: Fin24’s top stories