Taxman hits Malema for six

FILE PICTURE: Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema. Picture: Michel Bega.

FILE PICTURE: Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema. Picture: Michel Bega.

The taxman’s R16-million demand for back taxes from Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema followed more than 18 months of wrangling to persuade him to hand over his returns for 2005-2011, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said at the weekend.

SARS denied its investigations were politically motivated, saying they were launched after it became evident Malema was trying to “restructure his asset holdings without informing SARS”.

The office launched the unusual response after Malema recently accused it of playing political games with his taxes.

Instead, SARS accused Malema of failing to register for tax purposes his Ratanang family trust, which is the centre of a fraud, racketeering, corruption and money laundering criminal case against Malema, and several co-accused. After much stalling, SARS eventually registered the trust on his behalf.

It’s alleged Malema used the trust to hide his links to On-Point Engineering, which won a R52-million contract from the Limpopo roads department.

SARS said it decided to go ahead with sequestration proceedings against Malema when it became clear he was unwilling or unable to pay his taxes. It relinquished a claim over his Schuilkraal farm in favour of the National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit that had already submitted a claim for the farm.

“Ultimately, when SARS reached a conclusion on how much much tax Mr Malema owed SARS, and despite him having had, by his own account at least R4 million available at the time, he opted not to pay one cent towards his tax debt,” it said.

It had taken more than 18 months for Malema, assisted by a small army of lawyers, accountants and a chartered accountant, to submit his returns after publically challenging SARS to audit him.

An analysis of his returns SARS concluded he’s submitted “inaccurate information” for the years 2005 to 2011 and had failed to register a trust under his control for tax purposes.

SARS denied its investigation was politically motived, adding neither the Ministry of Finance, the Commissioner or Deputy-Commissioner of SARS had in any way been connected to its investigation.

It was being handled by its Special Investigations Team, headed up by “an African male”.




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