SARS becomes stricter

Tax Preparation

In this respect, SA falls in line with a world wide trend: the discernible flexing of muscle by tax administrations in a bid to generate extra revenue. For many countries this is a knock- on effect of the global financial crisis; for many African countries, enhancing domestic revenues is also crucial to reducing dependence on foreign assistance.Whatever the local imperative, the environment has never been riper for tax controversy in developed and emerging markets.The worry for companies is that aggressive clampdowns by a country’s revenue authority can lead to prolonged, burdensome wrangles that can ultimately render it inefficient for firms to continue doing business there .But an important policy shift is taking place, of which business, especially multinationals, should take heed: not only are tax administrations becoming more aggressive, they are becoming more effective. It emerges from a recent global survey by Ernst & Young that taxpayer data is being shared by tax administrations as never before , while multilateral tax enforcement efforts are growing.The Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre is an example of this collective approach, as is the recent signing by SA and 12 other countries of the convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters.But perhaps the most chilling manifestation of this increased co-operation between tax administrations is the dawn of the joint audit investigation, which is a simultaneous examination of a multinational by the tax authorities in a number of jurisdictions .In the face of this phalanx of revenue scrutiny, it is perhaps of some comfort to be aware that tax administrations recognise that to be effective they need to co-operate with taxpayers and engage with them in dialogue.As the chairman of the African Tax Administration Forum Ataf, Oupa Magashula, said recently: “Experience has proven that there are distinct and tangible benefits for both revenue and business, as well as their advisers, to engage in more consultative and collaborative relationships.” While at present Ataf has no formal procedure to facilitate engagement with investors, Magashula has said he would welcome suggestions from business on a possible African engagement strategy.However, Ataf has also been vocal about the need to bed down measures to stem tax avoidance and evasion in the region, saying developing countries lose revenue through the siphoning of money to tax havens.The recognition by tax authorities that dialogue with taxpayers is integral to effective tax collection is encouraging. But for it to be meaningful, authorities should resist the temptation to paint all multinationals with the same brush. Just as emerging markets can differ considerably from one another and should not be regarded by investors as homogeneous, so it must be recognised that multinational companies often differ markedly from one another in approach, behaviour, policy and their philosophy on tax matters.Realistic communication between tax authorities and taxpayers should engender a more holistic appreciation of what multinationals are doing and lead to a less confrontational position being taken by all sides.In the meantime, routine information sharing between tax authorities, together with more sophisticated risk assessment and audit methodologies, mean that tax risk management needs to be securely embedded in companies’ approach to corporate governance .

via On my mind – Tax laws-Tax muscle-flexing.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s