Playing football in a minefield
SARS is smart. Smarter than you!
There’s hardly a business or business person that has not slipped up in some way at some time with their tax affairs. After all you cannot be expected to know all of the taxation laws in detail and even if you did, you couldn’t possibly keep up with the frequent changes.
Sometimes one change deletes a previous change even before the previous one came into effect. Other times one change amends a previous one before the previous one came into effect. This happened with Dividends Withholding Tax. It was promulgated at 10% and signed into law by our dear President Nkandla and before the effective date, another Taxation Laws Amendment Act changed it to 15%.
So how do we sail these stormy seas? I’m afraid you’re going to have to get help. Now, the bidding starts at around R200 an hour. That would be someone who worked somewhere as a bookkeeper, figured they could make more money freelance and started their own one person business. They’ll do your books, submit your VAT returns and your tax returns as well. Great value for money, especially as you probably won’t have to pay any tax. Great until things go wrong that is. We get lots of poor souls who engaged substandard service providers (some of whom might have grown to sizeable companies, even bigger than ours). Sadly the cost of unscrambling an egg is far greater than the cost of scrambling one.
And to make it worse, we always take longer than the client expects. They usually come to us having realised their false economy. They’ve made the big decision to pay serious bucks to have the mess fixed. And because we’re the “experts” they tend to think that simply by throwing money at the problem, it will vanish in no time flat. Well, it doesn’t. It can be a long hard slog, starting with trying to sort out the books. That means getting the source data out of the happless client and making him or her understand that we can only work with hard facts. Once we’ve tidied up the accounts, we then have to tackle SARS and that’s often more pain, because although we often work miracles on getting penalties reversed, if there’s tax to pay, there’s tax to pay.
So don’t play football in the minefield!