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MBABANE – The adage, ‘a clever man changes his mind’, seems to be Swaziland Revenue Authority’s (SRA) motto lately.

Hardly a month after announcing that it would extend deadlines for submission of income tax returns, the authority, which had been known for its hard-line approach when collecting what is due to the State in the form of taxes, has disclosed that it will consider waiving penalties for companies that continue to embrace the spirit of voluntary compliance. This is in line with the Voluntary Disclosure Programme.

Commissioner General Dumisani Masilela, informed captains of industry who crammed the Royal Swazi Spa Gigi’s Restaurant, that the authority would consider waiving penalties for companies who would voluntarily admit to have committed errors or omitted certain figures when submitting their returns. In addition, the SRA has also announced that on top of the waiver, they will also accept payment arrangements.

However, the CG said this would only apply in cases where the error or omission might have not been uncovered by the officials but was voluntarily declared by the taxpayer. 
Masilela said that law explicitly stipulates that in the case where a taxpayer fails to adhere to the set deadlines and taxes due, there should be penalties and interest on the principal amount imposed but there would be considerations if for instance, an inaccurate figure reflects only in a single document but all invoices tally, which could suggest that a genuine error would have been committed.

“The intention of the SRA is not to penalise but inculcate a culture of compliance among taxpayers. We do not intend to make businesses defunct, so we are moving from being punitive to corrective, which is in line with our Compliance Risk Management Strategy,” assured Masilela yesterday.

The response from the CG had been prompted by a submission from Old Mutual Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Muzi Bell, who wondered whether there could be any considerations for businesses who voluntarily declare to have committed an error when submitting their returns.

“In some instances we are being made to pay penalties and interest even when we voluntarily declare to have committed a mistake, which defeats the whole purpose of inculcating a culture of voluntary compliance,” submitted Bell.
Further, the CG encouraged businesses which may not be satisfied with either estimated taxes due or penalties and interest due, to utilise appeal platforms stipulated in legislation to address their grievances.

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