Deepening Democracy through Access to Information
Home / Press Office / Webber Wentzel RSS ← Back

Email this article

separate emails by commas, maximum limit of 4 addresses

Verification Image. Please refresh the page if you cannot see this image.

Sponsored by


Article Enquiry

New broom to sweep clean at SARS' VDP Unit?

Verification Image. Please refresh the page if you cannot see this image.

Embed Video

New broom to sweep clean at SARS' VDP Unit?

30th June 2020


Font size: -+

Webber Wentzel participated in the SARS' Voluntary Disclosure Programme Feedback Survey for 2020 on Friday, 19 June 2020. This was an interactive opportunity to engage with SARS regarding the issues advisers experience daily with the current Voluntary Disclosure Programme (VDP) process.

SARS' VDP process is a legislated means for taxpayers to voluntarily approach SARS to regularise their tax affairs and pay additional tax to SARS where they made a default. A default may arise where incomplete/inaccurate information has been submitted to SARS or where a taxpayer has failed to submit relevant information to SARS. The default must result in an understatement of tax payable to SARS. The VDP process presents a unique and useful means for SARS to increase collections as taxpayers are voluntarily offering to give SARS additional money and this should be capitalised on.


The opportunity to provide feedback to SARS and the efforts made by the VDP Unit to engage with taxpayers and practitioners was valuable. The person tasked with the job of overhauling the VDP process, Nicholas Nemalili, will hopefully be able to sweep clean and resolve the numerous issues facing the VDP process and VDP Unit to the best advantage of the fiscus.

Some of the key concerns discussed by Webber Wentzel and other participants in the survey were:

  • significant and persistent delays with processing of VDP applications. The current, average turnaround time is 201 working days;
  • the need for further clarity from SARS in the form of an interpretation note and a comprehensive update on the existing guide to the VDP process;
  • the VDP Unit's inflexibility on questions of interpretation;
  • a heavy-handed approach to processing VDP applications e.g. the threat to impose penalties on a taxpayer if that taxpayer proposes to withdraw from the VDP process before signing the VDP agreement;
  • unreasonable deadlines to respond e.g. within five business days, regardless of the months of silence before a VDP assessor responds, if at all, to queries, comments or the provision of additional supporting information. This is compounded by the unsympathetic stance taken towards requests for extensions;
  • ​difficulties securing payment arrangements; and
  • a dwindling appetite for taxpayers to enter into the VDP process.

What was clear from the survey was that it was understood that SARS must prioritise clearing the processing backlogs on pending applications and that an enhanced, "taxpayer-friendly" approach, within the existing framework, was required. Also, that the policy approach on VDP applications needs reconsideration, particularly on the remission of interest in certain circumstances, and the possibility of submitting an objection against interest imposed by SARS.

Webber Wentzel continues to engage with the VDP Unit to find practical solutions to these issues and to make submissions on draft legislative documents.

Written by Joon Chong & Wesley Grimm, Webber Wentzel


To subscribe email or click here
To advertise email or click here

Comment Guidelines

About is a product of Creamer Media.

Other Creamer Media Products include:
Engineering News
Mining Weekly
Research Channel Africa

Read more


We offer a variety of subscriptions to our Magazine, Website, PDF Reports and our photo library.

Subscriptions are available via the Creamer Media Store.

View store


Advertising on is an effective way to build and consolidate a company's profile among clients and prospective clients. Email

View options
Free daily email newsletter Register Now