SARS investigating Zuma's Nkandla fringe benefit tax

SARS office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
SARS office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance wants the South African Revenue Service to speed up its investigation in President Jacob Zuma's fringe benefit tax relating to the upgrades at his homestead at Nkandla.

DA MP Alf Lees said on Wednesday that the party welcomes the admission by Advocate Neo Tsholanku of SARS at the meeting of the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday that SARS is indeed investigating the liability by Zuma to pay tax on the fringe benefits related to his Nkandla private residence.

"The DA will now write to SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane, to ask for a firm commitment to a timeline for the completion of this investigation," said Lees.

On Monday Zuma's reply to a parliamentary question on this matter was released.

"The issue of tax is a confidential matter between the South African Revenue Services and the taxpayer," reads Zuma's full written reply to DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

Maimane asked Zuma if he had paid fringe benefit tax on the non-security related upgrades at his private homestead in Nkandla, and if not, why not. If he did pay, Maimane wanted to know when and how much he had paid.

SARS declarations

After a damning ruling by the Constitutional Court in 2016, Zuma had to pay R7.8m for the swimming pool - also called a fire pool - the chicken run, kraal, amphitheater and visitor's centre.

According to the DA's calculations, Zuma should pay fringe benefit tax amounting to almost R64m for the Nkandla upgrades.

According to Lees, Tsholanku "glibly stated" in the Scopa meeting that "our auditors are working as fast as they can" to complete the investigation.

"However, the reality is that it has been three years since the DA first called on SARS, in March 2014, to assess the extent of the president's Nkandla fringe benefits," said Lees.

"Tsholanku's excuse won't do. SARS cannot think that South Africans must simply accept a massive delay in enforcing Jacob Zuma's tax liability. For three years Zuma has gotten away with evading paying tax on his palace of corruption - but that time is up.

"It is complete nonsense for SARS to cry 'complex processes' and 'our auditors are working as fast as they can' after being aware of the non-security upgrades for a full three years since the matter was exposed by the DA."

Lees said if the investigation finds that Zuma did not voluntarily declare the Nkandla fringe benefits to SARS, he should be criminally prosecuted.

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