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SARS is expected to exercise its considerable power to collect the correct amount of taxes to the benefit of the fiscus. However, this does not mean that rogue officials can act outside the law and appoint banks as collection agents, as they see fit.
Two cases exhibit the extent of SARS’ powers, albeit from opposing perspectives. The first demonstrates the big role SARS can play in both recovering the proceeds of state capture and in bringing the looters to book, while the second shows how devastating SARS’ powers can be when not exercised within the legislative framework.
The full bench of the Western Cape High court recently delivered judgment in a favour of a taxpayer (Cloete J dissenting) who, according to the Tax Court, was simply abusing process. Indeed, when studying the judgment of the Tax Court, it is difficult to see how the taxpayer’s approach was nothing more than an abuse of process which in turn begs the question – why was the taxpayer successful on appeal to the full bench of the High Court?