The Minister of Finance announced in the Budget Speech in February that a special voluntary disclosure programme (SVDP) which is aimed at encouraging South African taxpayers with undisclosed offshore assets to regularise their affairs would be introduced. Draft legislation was provided, and subsequent media releases by National Treasury and a SARS draft guide have also been released. Final legislation pertaining to the SVDP has not yet been promulgated.
Applications for relief under the SVDP opened on 1 October 2016 as anticipated. Although applications can already be submitted, SARS has stated that SVDP applications will be processed in terms of the final SVDP legislation approved by parliament. As the legislation is not yet final, there is currently no certainty regarding how SVDP applications will be dealt with. The draft guide on the SVDP released by SARS on 30 September 2016 differs from the current draft SVDP legislation in some important aspects. For example, the guide provides that the SVDP is scheduled to run for a period of 9 months from 1 October 2016 to 30 June 2017 but the draft SVDP bill schedules the SVDP to run for a period of 6 months. The guide states that taxpayers will be subject to tax on 40% of the highest value of the aggregate of all offshore assets held between the period 1 March 2010 to 28 February 2015, but the rate according to the draft SVDP bills is 50%.
We recommend that a taxpayer contemplating submitting an application in terms of the SVDP completes the various calculations and is aware of the liability that will be due to SARS and SARB so that necessary funds will be available for settlement of the amount owing once the SVDP process is finalised. We also suggest that taxpayers wait until the final legislation has been passed before submitting their applications.
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