Taxpayers mistrust SARS because of government corruption
OUTA Following a business survey of corporate taxpayers views which found that SARS has a way to go to gain their trust, OUTA used its social media channels to ask the public what SARS needs to do to regain public trust.
Our social media users were overwhelmingly critical of SARS as the collector of revenue who hands over these funds to what is strongly believed to be a corrupt government.
Responders linked the distrust of SARS to government looting, even though, as several responders pointed out, SARS doesn’t control the spending and the main problem lies with government misspending.
“There is no trust deficit with SARS. The problem is the crooks stealing the money in government,” said @ankeliwarona.
“Get rid of corruption. SARS collects and then hands it over to criminals and incompetents. As long as that continues I will resent and fight SARS. SARS is the enforcer of the mafia state,” said @ChrisGibbonsSA.
@VimleshRajbansi wants digital systems used to track the revenue SARS collects when it is disbursed. @Bazinga757 called for SARS to create “cost centres” and “attach payment milestones to approved projects, instead of handover billions of Rands to corrupt departments”.
“Arrest all the crooked politicians who have stolen billions,” said @Petar_DRC.
“Why has Paul Mashatile, Edwin Soni and Julius Malema not been prosecuted for tax evasion and under reporting?” asked @AmbercommOne.
“Trust is earned. Right now, our revenue collection service represent the very people that misappropriate public funds. Taxpayers feel that their hard earned money is thrown into this endless pit of corruption. Why should people feel good about paying taxes?” said @AurigenZA.
Respondents to the OUTA query called for: lifestyle audits for politicians; investigations into high-profile people who had publicly been linked to dubious behaviour; accountability on spending; higher taxes for the super-rich; faster SARS refunds; and better communication with businesses over registering for VAT, PAYE and UIF.
Of serious concern were calls to end tax evasion by illicit trading (cigarette dealers being the most obvious), and a need for SARS to broaden the tax base, including in the taxi industry.
There is a view that SARS should go beyond our borders and also look for missing money in foreign countries (like the UAE).
Suggestions were also made for government, through SARS, to provide
tax incentives for: having to pay for extra security companies to make us feel
safe; generating our own power; introducing water recycling systems; life-saving
medical treatments that government cannot provide, and school fees.
“They punish those who declare and pay. let the crooks go. Very shocking system,” said @seja2000.
“SARS is merely a revenue collection agency of a Government which proved to be systemically corrupt. It cannot earn trust on behalf of a failed Government,” said @JamesSpies12.
“Trusting SARS is the same thing as believing a stripper really likes you,” said @NicoletteBailey.
Overall, what comes across very strongly is that SARS is a government institution and is the entity that demands payment from the public and then hands this over to a government that is notorious for maladministration, wasteful and corrupt expenditure. It will unfortunately be tarred with the same brush of mistrust which the public applies to the government at large.
SARS could do more to earn the public trust if it is seen to be improving tax collections from known corruption perpetrators and sectors known for evasion. While recent efforts by SARS and the police leading to arrests and charges against illicit coal contractors to Eskom suggests there is movement in this regard, SARS has a long way to go with similar matter on a broader scale to improve public trust.