The South African Revenue Service (SARS) announced that audits into the tax affairs of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the companies that run his cattle business had been concluded without any adverse tax findings. It wished to confirm that the taxpayers were compliant with their tax obligations to date.
While taxpayers’ affairs are usually confidential, Ramaphosa had given the agency consent to make his status public because he faced renewed scrutiny over his handling of the theft of foreign currency that was hidden in a sofa at his Phala Phala game farm. Opposition parties had questioned whether the President had disclosed the income or had violated exchange control rules.
Under section 40 of the TAA, SARS can select a person for inspection, verification or audit based on any consideration relevant for the proper administration of a tax act, including on a random or a risk assessment basis.
Based on this approach, SARS said the taxpayers in question had been selected for audit by SARS well ahead of the start of the media campaign. The taxpayers had cooperated fully with SARS during the audits and there had been no interference or resistance from the taxpayers, their staff or any other party.
“At no stage was I approached by President Ramaphosa, or anyone on his behalf, with any request related to his personal and/or the business entities in question,” said SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter.
“In taking this exceptional step to disclose the tax status of the President, with his written consent, SARS would also encourage other high profile political office bearers and leaders in society to consider taking this proactive step as part of their commitment to transparency. This would go a long way towards building confidence in our country’s institutions.”