SARS published a media release confirming at the eleventh hour that the deadline for filing individual tax returns has been extended until the 2nd of December 2021. But what is the driver behind the indulgence?
The media release notes that SARS is aware of extraneous factors such as load-shedding and systemic issues experienced by SARS which may have made it difficult for taxpayers to file their return. But perhaps taxpayers should see the concession as a final shot across the bow to those who plan on filing late or not filing at all.
It is important to note that this filing season may come with more serious sanctions when compared to prior years. Some may need reminding that National Treasury and SARS successfully pushed through an amendment with effect from 1 March 2021, which essentially holds taxpayers to a higher standard of compliance.
Prior to this date, taxpayers would only be subject to criminal sanctions under the Tax Administration Act if they knowingly and wilfully flouted their tax obligations. In other words, if a taxpayer out of ignorance failed to submit their return, they may suffer monetary penalties, but they would not be guilty of a criminal offence.
But ignorance is no longer a defence. You can now be held criminally liable for failing to submit your return, even if you acted without intent.
SARS may just have given this extension to eliminate any excuses. One of SARS’ primary strategic objectives is to promote compliance and there is no better way than making examples of delinquent taxpayers under the new legislation.
While taxpayers will welcome this development, those who doubt SARS’ commitment to enforcement should perhaps consider the real reason behind SARS’ indulgence.
Submitted by Tax Consulting SA