The final date for submitting an application under the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP) is still 31 August 2017.
SARS’ media release on 24 August 2017 communicated that the SVDP period would close on 31 August. SARS wishes to dispel any rumour that an extension to the deadline is likely. The closing date is imminent and offers a once-off opportunity to disclose off-shore assets and income with the benefit of SVDP relief.
Taxpayers and advisers are reminded that the SVDP closing date has already been extended twice from the initial date of 31 March 2017 announced in the 2016 Budget. The SVDP closing date was first extended from 31 March 2017 to 30 June 2017 in the Bill introduced in Parliament. Proposals were then made to the Standing Committee on Finance (the Committee) to further extend the SVDP deadline to 30 September 2017. The Committee considered the proposals but only extended the closing date to 31 August 2017 because the automatic exchange of information internationally was, and is still, to begin in September 2017.
SARS is aware that there may be exceptional cases where taxpayers are struggling to obtain off-shore financial information that is required for an SVDP application. To assist these taxpayers to meet the 31 August 2017 deadline, SARS will accept the submission of an application that estimates the values of off-shore assets.
Taxpayers who cannot obtain accurate values on time are urged to submit a SVDP application by 31 August 2017 and include the following with their applications:
- Details of the efforts taken to obtain the financial information
- The date when the information is expected
- A description of the method used to estimate values.
There have been enquiries around the exclusion of taxpayers who have been notified of a SARS audit. Taxpayers are reminded that full SVDP relief cannot be granted if SARS notified the taxpayer of an audit or criminal investigation before the date of the SVDP application and that audit or investigation remains open. SARS does, however, have a discretion to approve an SVDP application even if there is a notification of an audit or criminal investigation. In respect of an application for SVDP relief, SARS must be satisfied that SARS’ audit or criminal investigation would not have detected the taxpayer’s foreign assets or income. SARS must also consider that granting SVDP relief is in the best interest of the good management of the tax system and be the best use of SARS resources.
Taxpayers are once again encouraged to apply for SVDP relief if they have undeclared foreign assets or income. In September 2017 SARS and the tax administrations of other countries will begin exchanging information on an automatic basis. This exchange of information will provide SARS with an international view of taxpayers, and the information will be used by SARS to initiate audits and even criminal investigations. The SVDP gives taxpayers an opportunity to regularise their affairs now, before this happens.
For more information, see the SVDP webpage.