Nugent inquiry: 'Restructuring at Sars dismantled tax enforcement unit'

Former head of the enforcement unit at Sars Pieter Engelbrecht says he received a letter in October 2015 that his position had been dissolved and the enforcement unit split up between other units.

Picture: EWN

PRETORIA – The Nugent Commission of Inquiry has heard how restructuring at South African Revenue Services (Sars) dismantled the tax enforcement unit and limited the revenue service's ability to enforce tax compliance.

The former head of the enforcement unit Pieter Engelbrecht testified at the commission in Pretoria on Wednesday morning.

Retired Judge Robert Nugent has been appointed to investigate tax administration and governance at Sars since 2014 when suspended commissioner Tom Moyane was appointed.

Engelbrecht says he received a letter in October 2015 that his position had been dissolved and the enforcement unit split up between other units.

He says this hampered Sars' ability to enforce tax compliance.

“If you look currently with the enforcement, there’s no key capability in terms of if I do a comparison with what we had in dealing with this economy. You can’t execute these type of investigations if you do not have multi-disciplinary teams executing these on a project basis.”

He says when enforcement slides so do compliance.

“That drove compliance; so that made people be aware that if you don’t comply we can touch you and that drives compliance."