Tag Archive | amnesty

Foreign assets amnesty Bill underway

Timing of window period resolved as 30 June

…..sent to clients 15 Sept…  The Standing Committee on Finance has now behind it the call for comment on a revised draft Rates and Monetaryfinancial-darwin Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill which proposes a Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP) for financial amnesty  in respect of offshore assets and income.     The process is therefore well underway for the introduction or tabling of the final Bill from Treasury.

The draft Bill was coupled with a second draft for comment, the Draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws (Administration) Bill, which handles implementation of the amnesty. 

gordhan2The original proposals were made by Treasury in June of this year following the statement made by Minister Pravin Gordhan in the 2016 National Budget. The idea is to again encourage non-compliant tax-payers to voluntarily disclose offshore assets and income, with a window period of opportunity to do this bearing in mind that the global standard for automatic exchange of information between tax payers is coming into force in 2017.

Alterations made

Changes to the original proposals are a re-definition of trusts to include those located externally; tax relief will apply to tax assessments going further back in date and undeclared amounts derived from foreign assets will apply for the financial years from March 1 2010 to Feb 28 2015, the common date for tax assessments.

Foreign assets

In the case of foreign assets, the tax applied was to be applied at 50% of the highest value of all assets offshore, the foreign currency conversion rate forsars-logo valuation being the highest Rand spot rate of the years applied for and declared.    A request to reduce this to 40% has been accepted by Minister Gordhan.       Treasury feels that anything less will cause discomfort those who have declared foreign assets correctly and have paid normal tax rates in the meanwhile.

Taxpayers who disposed of any foreign held assets prior to 1 March 2010 will also be able to apply for relief under the SVDP window, any tax to be payable in South Africa.    The application form is called the Voluntary Disclosure Application Form (VDP01) and can only be accessed via the SARS e-filing system if the current system is to be used for this particular SVDP.

More time

Financial advisors and banks have also pointed to the lengthy processes involved in filing applications, particularly where foreign asset valuations are involved and Treasury have indicated that the window period will run now from 1 October to 30 June 2017 to accommodate this.

The gazette states, “The SVDP (and the acceptance of electronic SVDP applications using the SARS e-filing platform) will commence on 1 October 2016 and will continue until 30 June 2017.    South African residents (individuals, sole proprietor, partnerships, deceased estates, insolvent estates, South African trusts, close corporations and companies) and former South African residents will be allowed to disclose their foreign assets held in contravention of the Exchange Control Regulations, 1961 (Regulations) as at 29 February 2016. Exchange control applications to the SVDP Unit are to be made pursuant to the provisions of Exchange Control Regulation 24 (Regulation 24).”

Particularly relevant is the addenda, “Please note that any party involved in a foreign exchange transaction that is currently under investigation by FinSurvmoney may not apply for administrative relief.”

From the proposals, it can be seen that R10m plus R1m a year is the maximum size of legal offshore investments that can be made by SA residents currently under the Act. This cannot be used to “offset” against any levy rendered against a disclosure, says SARS.       Corporates can still invest up to R1bn without informing the Reserve Bank.

Safe with SARS

SARS has said the average turnaround time is currently about 16 working days per case submitted.

Nothing has yet discussed in any way before the Standing Finance Committee on the issue of the Panama Papers, nor probably will it be, but the 1,700 South African names purported to be on record now with SARS from the Papers has been cited by some as a possible reason the Bill had not been tabled.

It is quite clear from the gazetted statement that no claims for amnesty are possible in general terms whilst an ongoing SARS investigation is in process.  ThisAfrica Money might disbar certain high profile cases therefore.

A final Bill is therefore now anticipated in Parliament for hearings, debate, concurrence by the NCOP and passage to the National Assembly for a vote since, presumably, nothing will happen until the Act is amended by both Bills.
Previous articles on category subject

Parliament debates three financial market and tax Bills
Budget 2016: more on amnesty – ParlyReportSA

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Budget 2016: more on amnesty

 sent to clients 8 April….

Deadline extended for amnesty…..

In the 2016 Budget presentation, which included an amnesty offer on undeclared overseas funds, it was claimedpravingordhan by the main opposition party that that this year’s financial plan may not have been bold enough to avert a downgrade, top of the mind remaining possible future tax hikes, particularly VAT – on which the jury is still out – and the ballooning public service wage bill.

Among the many other points raised in this year’s budget was the remark by Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, that “The principles of honesty and fairness needed to be embraced by all South Africans in order to overcome the challenges.”

The amnesty plan

To follow this up with action, Treasury have made a second offer for all those with undeclared assets abroad to get on the right side of the law without penalties and now have extended even that deadline because more time is often needed for applicants to prepare submissions.

“In acting together”, the Minister said, “we can address declining confidence, the retreat of capital and we can combat emerging patterns of predatory behaviour and corruption.” On this issue, he offered amnesty on undeclared offshore income and assets and another chance of the regularisation of offshore affairs.

Very little reaction occurred in parliamentary benches, possibly because the implications meant little personally but in having had to sweep the floor for further tax revenue inputs, any idea that works is a good one and a “voluntary disclosure programme” (to give it it’s technical name) could raise between R2bn to R4bn, once applied. Clearly also the Minister is looking for more reaction to increase funds resulting in the deadline being moved along the calendar.

Budget papers

budget 2016This offer was included with the usual raft of Bills the Minister tabled before he commenced his Budget speech and a few days later debated by the Standing Committee on Finance. They are “money” Bills and cannot be altered by Parliament, only commented upon.

Gordhan warned in his speech that “in terms of the new global disciplines on exchange of information between countries time was running out for tax dodgers who still have undeclared assets outside South Africa.”

Details

There are a number of conditions of course.

SARS will only include 50% of the total amount used to fund the declared acquisition assets before March 2015 in the taxable income column, as it were, and this will subject to normal tax. All refers to items from March 2010 onwards as taxable income at normal rates. Investment returns prior to March 1 will be exempt. Interest arising from tax debts as a result of the voluntary disclosure will only commence from March 2010.

Bearing in mind that relief is also granted from the appropriate penalties that would have applied and any criminal action not taken, this say experts, is a pretty fair offer. Levies will be applied of between 5% and 10% according to whether the funds from proceeds are repatriated or not, which levy must be paid from outside external funds. On levies generally, there are a number of special conditions according to circumstances.

Not just business

Minister Gordhan made it quite clear that the offer was coming from both the Treasury and the Reserve Bank. He said that deceased estates and beneficiaries of discretionary trusts can participate in the programme if they deem and if they admit that the funds were destined for them. Resident South Africans are included in the amnesty.

The grace period was given originally in the Budget for the period October 1 to March 31 of the current government financial year but in hearings before Parliament later, the Standing Committee on Finance listened to business submissions on the Budget and “recommended” to Treasury that this is impractical given the amount of time it takes to come up with all the necessary information and submit, bearing in mind, as we say, Parliament cannot touch a money Bill. Treasury obviously heard this

Public submissions worked

It was chairperson of the Finance Standing Committee, Yunus Carrim, who pointed this out to Treasury after listening to public submissions, so at least he will find that more applicants will probably be encouraged to submit.
Previous articles on category subject
Budget vote speeches: Out of touch with each other – ParlyReportSA
Minister Nene maps survival route – ParlyReportSA
Parliament votes on 2014 budget – ParlyReportSA

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