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Concourt ruling confirms SARS’ right to withhold taxpayer information

Concourt ruling confirms SARS’ right to withhold taxpayer information

Pretoria, 15 December 2020 – The Commissioner of South African Revenue Service (SARS) Mr Kieswetter welcomes the unanimous judgment of the Constitutional Court handed down by Judge Madlanga on 15 December 2020 in Public Protector v CSARS and others.
Commissioner Kieswetter says:  “This case is about the fundamental principle that taxpayer information is confidential, and a sacrosanct pillar our quest to achieve Voluntary Compliance. Every taxpayer must have the confidence that SARS will fight to protect this right without fear, favour or prejudice.”  There is a strict duty on SARS to preserve and protect taxpayer confidentiality. “This case” he says, “has never been about defying the Public Protector, nor about protecting the interest of any particular taxpayer. Every taxpayer is equal before the law, and SARS has the duty to protect taxpayer confidentiality irrespective of their position in society, and apply the law evenly regardless of the persons involved.”
The Constitutional Court judgment firmly confirms the confidentiality of taxpayer information as contained in the Tax Administration Act of 2011. “This confirms my position to resist the Public Protector’s subpoena to access taxpayer information. I welcome the Constitutional Court’s judgement provides the clarity on this important principle of taxpayer confidentiality. This was the substantive aspect of the declaratory we sought from the courts in the first place.”
SARS also respects the other conclusions contained in the Court’s judgment.
SARS acknowledges the remarks by Judge Madlanga that the Public Protector’s Office “is an important cog in our constitutionalism” and that the efficacy of the Office must be preserved for posterity. Commissioner Kieswetter adds “In this respect, I accept and endorse the Constitutional duty of every organ of state, including SARS, to assist and promote the functions of the Office of the Public Protector.  We are committed to contribute to a well-functioning democracy.

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