SARS crackdown on illegal activities nets R8.2 billion - 300% more than the previous year

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SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter.
SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter.
Deon Raath/Netwerk24
  • SARS announced that it recovered R8.2 billion in revenue from criminal and illicit economic activities in the 2021/22 financial year.
  • This figure is above its target of R2.5 billion for the year and well above its recoveries of R1.9 billion for the 2020/21 financial year. 
  • SARS Criminal and Illicit Economic Activities division finalised 385 preliminary investigations into a range of activities and sectors. 
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The South African Revenue Service (SARS) recovered R8.2 billion in revenue from criminal and illicit economic activities in the 2021/22 financial year – up 331% from R1.9 billion in the previous year.

This was also much higher than the tax body’s target of R2.5 billion.

The annual report said the SARS Criminal and Illicit Economic Activities division finalised 385 preliminary investigations spanning fuel, tobacco, alcohol, clothing and textiles, leather and footwear, VAT issues in the gold sector, "phoenixism" (where a liquidated company re-emerges as a new entity), abusive liquidation and business rescue practices, illicit financial flows, and tax evasion.

Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said SARS had a 97.67% success rate in the number of cases SARS took to court for prosecution.

READ | Luxury goods audits: SARS can probe more easily than you think, and the cleanup is just starting

Over the past year, SARS collected R1.564 trillion in tax revenue, which is R16.7 billion more than the final estimate of R1.547 trillion.

It is also 25% more than the previous year - and a 15.3% increase over the pre-pandemic 2019 year.

"Continued focus will be on increasing our capability to improve debt collection, implementing various recommendations on the tax compliance of companies and high wealth individuals, fast-track criminal investigations and counter illicit practices, as well as shaping the policy and approach to increase revenue collections and service to the informal economic sector," said Kieswetter.

Kieswetter said in the 2021/22 financial year 90.74% of taxpayers and traders used digital and self-help platforms to interact with SARS.

READ | Ex-SARS staff accuse tax agency of downplaying state capture to block their return

In the annual report, Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana said SARS was critical to South Africa’s economic recovery as it collects more than 90% of all Government revenue and facilitates legitimate trade, connecting the South African economy to international trade.

The office of the Auditor-General also gave SARS a clean audit report or an unqualified audit opinion with no findings for the year under review.

The report comes as SARS continues to chart a recovery from governance challenges in the past, as detailed in the Nugent Commission of Inquiry.

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