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SARS making illicit tobacco trade hard and costly

SARS making illicit tobacco trade hard and costly

23 February 2022 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) through its Criminal and Illicit Economic Activities and Customs Divisions carried out inspections as well as search and seizure operations on cigarette companies and manufacturers in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng.

The premises inspected and searched include the residences of certain individual taxpayers. The intervention and operations are related to wider investigations and audits into the tax affairs of cigarette manufacturers, their directors, related entities and individuals for purposes of verifying their tax compliance and identifying information that may support such audits.

These interventions were initiated after potential discrepancies were identified in customs declarations and tax returns related to the entities.

The search and seizure exercises yielded:

  • 362 master cases valued at R4.8 million in the Western Cape.
  • 3852 master cases valued at R51 million in Gauteng.
  • A physical inspection is under way at the Durban harbour after 20 containers were mis-declared to contain tobacco valued at R24 million, though the initial inspection found a consignment of cement bags. Furthermore, the same exporter was detected to be involved in the exporting ofover 10 million kilograms of tobacco valued at over R450 million. SARS investigations are continuing.

SARS encourages all taxpayers and traders to ensure that their tax and customs obligations are up to date and in compliance with the tax and customs laws.

The SARS Commissioner, Mr Edward Kieswetter, reiterated the organization’s and broader government’s commitment to combatting any illicit trade and criminal economic activities. He said, “Those who systematically and deliberately set out to deprive what is due to fiscus through fraudulent and other non-compliant activities, will be confronted and dealt with. This kind of conduct will be made hard and costly.”

For more information, please contact [email protected]

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