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High court judgment

High court judgment

Tshwane, 18 November 2021 – The Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Mr Edward Kieswetter, has noted the judgment handed down by the Gauteng High Court in the matter of Arena Holdings and others v SARS and others on 16 November 2021, on the release of information relating to a taxpayer.

“The matter of taxpayer confidentially is not about a particular individual, but what tax authorities around the world regard as an essential principle of trust between themselves and their taxpaying public. It is also central to our strategic intent to achieve voluntary compliance. Taxpayers need to be assured that SARS will not simply disclose the information they have in good faith, and as required in law, disclosed to us. SARS’ original decision to oppose this application was taken based entirely upon these principles. The issues are undoubtedly important to me as SARS Commissioner, to SARS as an institution, and to the general public, which is evident in the extensive affidavits that we filed before the hearing in the High Court opposing the relief sought.

It is also important to note that the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development both opposed the application for access to a taxpayer’s confidential tax information.

“I have noted the numerous commentary on the Judgment, both in the formal media and upon social platforms and I fully understand that the media, tax and legal professionals, and as well as taxpayers are eager to understand what SARS position is and what our intentions are. I wish to assure the community that the judgment, and SARS options, are currently being fully deliberated and considered. Once these deliberations are concluded, a final decision will be made, and I give the assurance that we will engage again once this decision is made.”

SARS wishes to assure taxpayers, traders and tax professionals that the tax confidentiality provisions, as contained in the relevant legislation, remain binding on SARS and all SARS staff, and that any unauthorised disclosure of confidential taxpayer information remains a criminal offence.

For more information, please contact SARS at [email protected]

 

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