If you have offshore assets that you’d hoped to conceal from South African Revenue Services (SARS), it is likely that they have already found out about them. This is due to the Common Reporting Standards in place with 87 jurisdictions worldwide, which requires all information regarding offshore investments.
The situation may not be ideal for many, though it is not too late to disclose offshore assets and regularise your affairs. Doing so is advised for a better outcome before SARS conducts an independent audit.
With the current pressure that SARS and the National Treasury are placed under, they have renewed energy for identifying the offshore assets acquired by South African tax residents. Gone are the days of lax oversight of offshore investments.
The introduction of the Exchange Control Amnesty Bill in 2003 allowed taxpayers to repatriate their offshore assets and normalise their tax affairs to maintain compliance. When this bill was introduced almost 20 years ago, the consensus was that the government was expanding their networks to improve its information exchange.
For taxpayers evading the declaration of their offshore investments, they may feel that their assets are well hidden through various company structures. This is no longer the case. Under the Common Reporting Standards, the company’s administrator is legally obligated to report all parties. This is a law in all participating jurisdictions.
Under the Common Reporting Standards rules, it is not only taxpayers that are required to disclose information regarding offshore investments. Reporting Financial Institutions are also required to disclose any discovered account to the tax authorities.
With 109 countries participating and the number continuously growing, taxpayers are strongly advised to disclose any hidden offshore assets.
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