SAIPA welcomes the interim change of guard at the revenue authority

South African Institute of Professional Accountants
22 March 2018

The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) welcomes the appointment of Mark Kingon as Acting Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Ettiene Retief, chairman of the national tax and SARS committee at SAIPA, says Kingon has a vast amount of knowledge and years of experience. He is well respected in tax circles and within SARS.
“SAIPA has confidence in his ability to lead the organisation in this difficult interim period. He is a capable leader and extremely competent in tax matters,” says Retief.
“In our dealings with him, he has always been willing to engage with us on issues affecting taxpayers, and to address them.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday suspended Commissioner Tom Moyane, saying it was in the public interest to restore the credibility of SARS without delay.

The president said in a letter to Moyane, that developments under his leadership have resulted in a deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised.

Tax morality slipping

Retief says as an Institute they have seen evidence of a drop in tax morality, trust and confidence in the revenue agency. This has mainly been due to negative publicity surrounding the effectiveness of the agency, taxpayer engagements, the loss of institutional knowledge and valuable skills and concerns about senior executives at SARS being held accountable for their actions.
“A revenue authority is a critical part of any government because it is responsible for collecting the revenue government requires to fulfil its obligations.”

If this ability is compromised all social obligations on the state, as well as efforts to build infrastructure, grind to a halt.
President Ramaphosa indicated that as SARS Commissioner, Moyane holds a high position of trust in the management of the country’s public finances.
When he declined to resign, it was necessary to act urgently and immediately to protect the institution and place it on a path to stability and recovery, the Presidency said in its statement.

The way forward

Retief says SAIPA supports Kingon and his team during the inquiry and the start of restoring the confidence in, and reputation of the revenue service.

Kingon took on the responsibility of Acting Chief Officer: Business and Individual Taxes, following the resignation of Jonas Makwakwa, who is being investigated by the Financial Intelligence Centre.

“It will take a long time to rebuild the reputation and the trust that people had in the institution. However, it is encouraging to see a president who takes action and who wants to see that people in power are being held accountable,” says Retief. People are starting to have more confidence in the system as they see people being held accountable.
“The taxpayer wants action and will react positively to that.” He says whoever takes over at the helm following the conclusion of the disciplinary proceedings against Moyane, and the presidential Commission of Inquiry into tax administration and governance at SARS, will be closely watched.

It is critical that some of the systemic and administrative issues that have been affecting taxpayers are addressed swiftly and efficiently.

Taxpayer engagement critical

Engagement with taxpayers will now be a critical step to restore tax morality, says Retief. Taxpayers need assurance and encouragement that they will be handled fairly and with respect when they try to be compliant, or to address issues.