The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has committed to the automatic exchange of tax information with the revenue authorities of over 50 other jurisdictions under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) Common Reporting Standard (CRS) by September 2017.
This international initiative goes hand-in-hand with SARS’ proposal to close the tax net on South African expats, many of whom have simply stopped starting submitting tax returns, completed zero tax filings and / or otherwise not complied with income tax and capital gains tax rules.
Banks will be required to provide to SARS financial information which includes: interest, dividends, account balances, income from certain insurance products, sales proceeds from financial assets and other income generated with respect to assets held in the account or payments made with respect to the account. This links back to South African passports, which create the reporting obligation.
Tax Residence in South Africa or in another jurisdiction will also form part of the CRS disclosure. This may include providing proof of foreign tax residency and, according to Marius Engelbrecht, our lead tax partner on personal tax compliance, we have seen a number of accounts being closed where the taxpayer appears to have been non-compliant.
He recommends the initial step is always to establish your current SARS compliance and according to latest statistics, only between about 25% of expatriates that ask us to check their status are fully up to date and compliant.