Tax revenue less than expected on South Africa's sluggish economy

23 August 2016 - 18:55 By Linda Ensor

There was a R4.5 billion shortfall in the revenue collected by the South African Revenue Service in the first three months of the current fiscal year as against the estimated figure‚ SARS commissioner Tom Moyane revealed Tuesday. The lower tax returns reflect a sluggish economy which is going to make meeting the annual tax target of over R1 trillion a challenge for the tax authority.Debt collectors hired by SARS to chase defaultersSARS says it is satisfied with the services of the three debt collectors it has appointed. A total of R256.9 billion was collected‚ with VAT coming in 5‚5% or R3.3 billion lower than estimates due to rising interest rates‚ tighter credit conditions‚ high unemployment and the depreciation of the rand.One million tax returns filed in 21 days‚ Sars thanks 'patriotic' South AfricansSouth African taxpayers have submitted 1-million tax returns in 21 days. VAT refunds were 5.6% or R2.6 billion higher due to higher than expected claims from finance‚ manufacturing‚ wholesale and retail trade sectors.Personal income tax was also R941 million (1%) lower while lower fuel demand saw fuel levy collections fall 2.9% (R439 million) below the estimate.Excise duties were R320 million or 3.6% lower due to lower revenue from cigarettes.These shortfalls were partially offset by higher corporate income tax which was about R940 million (1.8%) higher than estimates due to lower refunds and higher provisional payments.Moyane said in a briefing to Parliament's finance committee that SARS planned to reduce its operating cost from 0.94% of total revenue collected in 2015/16 to 0.8% by 2018/19.He reported on the sharp increase in electronic volumes of submissions which reached 97.5% in 2015 with 98% of payments being made electronically in that year.SARS was testing the security and logistics of submitting tax returns via cell phones.

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