Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter. Picture: Moneyweb
Public trust in the South African Revenue Service (Sars) has seen an upsurge under new head Edward Kieswetter, according to research by South African Citizen Surveys. Its research shows that 60% of South Africans in the second quarter have some degree of trust in the institution under the new commissioner.
The results show an improvement of 5% compared to last year’s Q2 result of 55%. According to an independent tax expert Natalie Napier, transparency by the tax collectors has been the key element to regaining the public’s trust.
Napier said there had been a change at Sars that has instilled stability in the institution. “The stability might have influenced more people to trust the institution. Although it is still early days, this could simultaneously have a positive impact in the tax contributions by taxpayers and save Sars from a tax revolt,” said Napier.
The tax expert believed more transparency and feedback to keep taxpayers informed on the state and plans of the institution might lead to increased public trusts in the institution.
Addressing and treating people fairly could lead to better tax collections, Napier said. Last month at the tax indaba, Kieswetter said the institution faced a tax revolt, as the public felt justified for withholding or avoiding tax as the revenue service was drowning in corruption allegations. In efforts to try and clean up the institution, Kieswetter announced that he was to work with the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate 1 177 tax fraud-related cases.
Kieswetter assumed the position of Sars Commissioner on May 1. His appointment came after the institution was crippled by maladministration which caused revenue collection loss.
He took over from the agency’s interim commissioner Mark Kingon, the successor to Tom Moyane, who was fired in November 2018. At the time of Kieswetter’s appointment by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Treasury stated that his past experience as deputy commissioner for Sars, between 2004 and 2009, motivated his appointment as the new boss.
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