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Avoid a lawsuit! Never commit these 18 criminal Vat offences

by , 17 December 2014
We've written a lot about the penalties SARS will slap you with if you get your Vat wrong, particularly that 200% penalty. But that's not the worst thing SARS can do to you.

SARS can charge you with a criminal offence, take you to court and have you thrown in jail.

This doesn't just mean the end of your freedom, but also the end of your business. After all, no one wants to do business with a convicted criminal.

But SARS will only do this if you actually commit a serious criminal Vat offence. To help you avoid this fate, I'm going to show you 18 criminal Vat offence SARS will take you to court for...


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Never commit these 18 criminal Vat offices

There are four main categories criminal Vat offences fall under. They are:
1. Not doing legally required actions;
2. Doing illegal actions;
3. Refusing or neglecting to do certain required actions; and
4. Contravening Vat laws.

Here are the 18 criminal Vat offences that fall into these four groups:
You're criminally liable if you don't do these five actions:
1. Register or tell SARS about a change in your details as a vendor;
2. Appoint a representative taxpayer or notify SARS about it (section 153 or 249, TAA);
3. Register as a tax practitioner (section 240, TAA);
4. Submit a return or document to SARS or don't give someone a document that you should, e.g. you don't give a proper tax invoice; or
5. Keep records as required by the TAA.
You're criminally liable if you do these two actions:
6. Submit a false certificate or account statement; or
7. Issue a wrong, incomplete or false document required by the Tax Act.
You're criminally liable if you refuse or neglect to do these four actions:
8. Give SARS any information, document or things, as and when the TAA requires it;
9. Reply to or answer any question a SARS official asks as and when the TAA requires it;
10. Make a declaration as and when the TAA requires it; or
11. Attend and give evidence, as and when the TAA requires it.
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And these are the seven contraventions SARS will hold you criminally liable for:

If you:
12. Don't comply with an instruction from SARS under a tax act;
13. Don't disclose to SARS any information you should've disclosed under the TAA. Or you don't tell SARS about anything you should have;
14. Try to stop a SARS official from doing his duties; 
15. Refuse to help auditors during a field audit or a criminal investigation (section 49(1), TAA);
16. Pretend to be a SARS official when you're not employed by SARS;
17. If you dissolve a taxpayer's assets or help another person dissolve the assets to stop tax, penalties or interest collection; or
18. If you get notice from SARS to transfer the assets or pay the amounts to SARS and you don't comply (sections 179 to 182, TAA). This is specifically about:
  • Third party liability if SARS appoints you to satisfy tax debts;
  • Liability for tax debt financial management;
  • Shareholder liability tax debts; or
  • Transferee liability for tax debts. 
SARS will catch you if you commit any of these 18 criminal Vat offences! So conduct all your Vat operations according to the law to avoid any trouble. 
You can find out more about what SARS counts as criminal Vat offences in the Practical Vat Loose Leaf Service

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