SARS gives HSBC tax cheats a disclosure deadline

Callidus News Update

TAX cheats who used foreign HSBC accounts to evade their tax obligations have until August 12 to come clean with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) or face paying penalties.

The tax authority said on Thursday it had completed the initial phase of matching information obtained through international exchange of information procedures with the SARS taxpayer database.

This matching has confirmed that some HSBC account holders might have used their accounts to evade their South African tax liabilities. SARS appealed to those involved to use its voluntary disclosure program until August 12, after which it would start issuing audit notification letters.

The SARS voluntary disclosure program is administered under the Tax Administration Act and aims to encourage taxpayers to come forward voluntarily to regularize their tax affairs and so avoid understatement penalties and other administrative penalties

In February, SARS moved swiftly to investigate claims that South Africans had stashed R23bn in more than 2,200 accounts at Swiss banking group HSBC, some of which could have been illegally deposited there to avoid having to pay tax.

The South Africans were among more than 100,000 people and entities from 203 countries with accounts at the bank amounting to $102bn. The information was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists via French newspaper Le Monde.

The data made available by the consortium provided information about each account holder and the history of communications with the bank. The list of South Africans consisted mainly of individuals.

By:BY LINDA ENSOR, 10 JULY 2015, 07:13