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Sars warns that giving PP Zuma’s tax info could have dire consequences

Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had put the revenue service between a rock and a hard place with this matter and hoped the courts would provide clarity.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.  Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has on Tuesday warned that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s demand for confidential tax information of former President Jacob Zuma could have dire consequences for the taxman.

Last month, Mkhwebane issued a subpoena to obtain the information.

She is investigating a 2017 complaint from the Democratic Alliance claiming that Zuma allegedly pocketed undeclared money from a security company during his Presidency.

These details are contained in journalist Jacques Pauw's book The President’s Keepers.

Sars has taken her to court to fight the subpoena while Zuma himself said the revenue service must hand over his tax records to Mkhwebane.

There are three parts to this fight for Zuma’s tax information.

Sars said the law did not allow it to release the records.

The Public Protector said she had powers to force Sars to release the information.

And then the man who’s at the centre of it all said he had no problem with his tax documents being released.

Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said that was not an option: “Disclosure of tax information has serious consequences. It has a consequence for the core business of any tax administration. The willingness of taxpayers to comply with the law depends directly on the trust invested by citizens and businesses in the tax administration in question and the confidence that their tax information will not be generally disclosed.”

He said Mkhwebane had put the revenue service between a rock and a hard place and hoped the courts would provide clarity.