What is the permanent Voluntary Disclosure Programme?
The South African Revenue Service (SARS), in terms of the Tax Administration Act No. 28 of 2011, has made provision for the Voluntary Disclosure Programme (VDP) to be permanently available to a qualifying individual, company or trust that seeks to voluntarily disclose and regularise their tax affairs. This step is aligned to the SARS’ strategic objective, which seeks to provide clarity and certainty as well as make it easy and seamless for taxpayers and traders to comply with their obligations.
SARS would like to encourage all taxpayers who may be in default on their tax affairs, to approach SARS via the Voluntary Disclosure Programme. By coming forward willingly, such taxpayers will receive the help and advice from SARS to expedite the resolution of their request. Where through its own investigative processes SARS discovers non-compliance, it will not avail this opportunity to non-compliant taxpayers but will act within the remit of the law to deal with non-compliance.
SARS is firmly committed to the pursuit of strategic intent, which is to promote voluntary compliance whilst lowering the cost of compliance. To this end, we want all taxpayers to understand that they always have an opportunity to regularise their tax affairs. While voluntary compliance is our first preference, SARS is refining its capability to detect and make it hard an costly for non-compliant taxpayers.
Who can apply?
Taxpayers who have tax defaults with SARS and would like to be granted relief from penalties, and avoid possible criminal prosecution can voluntarily disclose their outstanding tax affairs. Tax defaults, range from submitting inaccurate or incomplete information or the failure to submit information to SARS requested in relation to any tax type that SARS administers, excluding duties and levies charged under the Customs and Excise Act, 91 of 1964.
The Voluntary Disclosure Programme is a unique opportunity for defaulting taxpayers to regularise their tax affairs, SARS encourages concerned taxpayers to make use of this legal instrument.
Requirements of the programme
A defaulting taxpayer will be granted relief under the programme if the application meets the following requirements:
- The disclosure must be voluntary;
- The disclosure is full and complete in all material respects;
- The disclosure involves a default which has not occurred within five years of the disclosure of a similar default;
- The disclosure involves a behaviour referred to in the understatement penalty table in Section 223 of the Tax Administration Act;
- The disclosure would not result in a refund due by SARS; and
- The disclosure is made in the prescribed form and manner.
How to apply?
Prospective applicants can apply for VDP via SARS eFiling.
Successful VDP applications will culminate into an agreement that will cover amongst others:
- The material facts of the defaults disclosed;
- The amount payable by the taxpayer including the understatement penalty separately reflected;
- The relief granted by SARS under the Tax VDP;
- Payment arrangements and dates in respect of tax payable; and
- The fact that the relief may be withdrawn if SARS subsequently determines that the disclosure did not constitute a valid and complete disclosure under the Tax VDP.
- Email: [email protected] or
- Telephone: 0800 864 613.
- Media statement issued on 30 November 2022 – SARS permanent Voluntary Disclosure Programme
- Media statement issued on 30 September 2016 – Launch of the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme
- Media statement issued on 20 July 2016 – Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme in respect of offshore assets and income: Request for public comments (see the Draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill, 2016, the Draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment Laws (Administration) Bill, 2016 and the Draft Explanatory Memorandum on the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme in respect of offshore assets and income)
- Media statement issued on 12 April 2016 – Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme in respect of offshore assets and income: Request for public comments (see the Draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill, 2016 and the Draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment Laws (Administration) Bill, 2016)
- Media statement issued on 24 February 2016 – Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme in respect of offshore assets and income
Q: Why is there a VDP?
A: The purpose of the VDP is to enhance voluntary compliance in the interest of good management of the tax system and the best use of SARS resources
Q: What does SARS want to achieve with the VDP?
A: The VDP aims to encourage taxpayers to come forward on a voluntary basis to regularise their tax affairs with SARS and avoid the imposition of understatement penalties and other administrative penalties.
Q: Which of the tax types are included under the VDP?
A: The VDP is applicable to all taxes administered by SARS (excluding Customs and Excise).
Q: Who may apply for VDP?
A: Any individual, company or trust that wants to voluntarily disclose their tax affairs to SARS, provided they qualify for the VDP.
Q: Are there any requirements for a valid VDP application?
A: Yes. In order for an application to be valid, the following requirements should be complied with:
Q: What happens if a VDP application is incomplete?
A: An incomplete VDP application is discarded by the VDP unit without further notice to the applicant.
Examples of these are –
Q: Where do I find an application form?
A: The application form is called the Voluntary Disclosure Application Form (VDP01) and can only be accessed via the SARS eFiling system
Q: Do I need to be registered for eFiling to apply for VDP?
A: Yes. It means that you first need to register on the eFiling system before you can apply for VDP.
Q: What happens if my application is approved?
A: An agreement is concluded between SARS and the applicant that reflects the outcome of the application process
Q: Can I object and appeal against a VDP assessment?
A: No. The VDP assessment gives effect to the VDP agreement, and typically includes the disclosed additional taxable income and, depending on how long ago the default occurred, interest and and penalties not subject to relief.
Q: Can I request a remission of interest and/or penalties raised in a VDP assessment?
A: No. The interest and penalties form part of the VDP agreement as well as the VDP assessment, both of which are final and binding.
Q: What must I do if I have made an application for VDP?
A: The following are important to note:
Q: Can a representative person apply for VDP on behalf of the taxpayer?
A: Yes, a representative person may apply for VDP on behalf of the taxpayer.
Q: What are the requirements for a representative person to apply on behalf of the taxpayer?
A: Both the taxpayer and the representative taxpayer must be registered on eFiling and the representative taxpayer must be linked to the tax types and profiles.
Q: What if the following message ‘An anonymous application must be submitted where the applicant is not registered for the tax type that the VDP Application is for’ is displayed when submitting a VDP application?
A: This is an indication that either the taxpayer or the representative person is not registered for the tax type on eFiling and the tax type is not linked to the profiles.
Ensure that the taxpayer and the representative are linked on eFiling and the tax type is active on eFiling before submitting a VDP application via eFiling. If there are any issues, phone the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277.