Earlier this week the South African Revenue Service (SARS) announced they have tallied over R1 billion in revenue from their Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP). 

The SVDP offered South Africans an opportunity to legally declare their offshore assets and incomes over the course of a year, ending on 31 August, 2017. 

READ: Declare offshore assets by 31 august

Of over 2000 applications received by SARS at the closing date, 335 have been processed so far, amounting to R1 016 467 286 in revenue. 

According to a recent press release, this will assist the country in its socio-economic development and take South Africa forward. 

The SVDP ended the day before the first Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) came into effect, which now enables local financial authorities to access international banking information.

As a result, SARS can now locate undeclared offshore assets and incomes that have been exported in order to dodge taxes.

Darren Britz, admitted attorney of the High Court who specialises in SARS’s voluntary disclosure programmes, believes progress has been made with the AEOI, but that it’s still in its infancy.

“A number of our clients have reported receiving notices from their respective foreign banking institutions in which they were required to disclose financial and tax information,” he explained. 

“This mandatory disclosure will ultimately make its way to SARS who will scrutinise against old income tax returns,” he added.

Britz thinks these are minor advancements but, “We are all waiting for a newspaper headline which declares that SARS has discovered offshore assets worth billions.” 

SARS is still offering their ongoing Voluntary Disclosure Programme (VDP), which also allows South Africans to declare their offshore assets and incomes, but under different conditions.

“Tax evasion carries penalties of 200% of the tax liability and, more worrying, is the criminal prosecution that may follow,” said Britz.  

He advises anyone who is not one hundred percent sure they are tax compliant to seek advice and, if necessary, make a disclosure through the VDP. 

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