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Mkhwebane, Sars boss clash over Zuma tax records - who has greater legal muscle?

11 November 2019 5:30 PM
Tags:
Jacob Zuma
Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Public Protector
SARS
SARS Commissioner
Edward Kieswetter
tax records

The legal battle between Sars and Mkhwebane will make clear the powers of the public protector's office when it comes to tax info.

The SA Revenue Service (Sars) has apparently taken court action to stop Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane from accessing Jacob Zuma’s tax records.

According to the Business Day, Sars boss Edward Kieswetter has launched urgent legal action to block Mkhwebane.

She had issued a subpoena in a bid to obtain the former president's tax information.

Mkhwebane is investigating a 2017 complaint from the Democratic Alliance (DA) claiming that Zuma allegedly pocketed undeclared money from a security company during his presidency.

The battle over Zuma's tax records is a clash of legislative powers, explains Joon Chong, a partner in Webber Wentzel's tax practice.

What we are seeing here is a conflict between the Public Protector Act, Section 7 [on] investigative powers and Section 69 of the Tax Administration Act.

Joon Chong, Partner in the tax practice - Webber Wentzel

According to the Tax Administration Act, Sars officials should be allowed to withhold tax information.

Chong says that keeping tax information confidential is vital to building institutional trust.

Taxpayer confidential information is pivotal and vital to building institutional trust.

Joon Chong, Partner in the tax practice - Webber Wentzel

He doesn't believe that Mkhwebane is justified in her request for Zuma's tax information and explains why.

The Tax Administration Act states that tax information can only be shared if there is a high court order declaring such or in instances where any other legal act expressly provides for the disclosure of the information, Chong explains.

If you look at section 7 of the Public Protector Act, the authority of the Public Protector to issue a subpoena to any other person is quite general... I don't believe the Public Protector has the right to access such information because of the wording of section 7.

Joon Chong, Partner in the tax practice - Webber Wentzel

Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham:


11 November 2019 5:30 PM
Tags:
Jacob Zuma
Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Public Protector
SARS
SARS Commissioner
Edward Kieswetter
tax records

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