Taxman happy with high court’s bpSA ruling

Connie Queline

Taxman happy with high court’s bpSA ruling

South African Revenue Service (Sars) Commissioner Edward Kieswetter has welcomed the Pretoria High Court’s decision to dismiss an application for leave to appeal by British Petroleum of South Africa (bpSA) to review the commissioner’s decision to refuse its refund claims and levy forfeiture under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (Paja).

Kieswetter expressed satisfaction in a statement issued on Monday that the court has provided legal certainty and clarity on how Sars should address so-called ‘ghost exports’ going forward.

The petroleum giant has been involved in a legal dispute with Sars since 2019, when it claimed to have sold three million gallons of diesel to Zimbabwe and was seeking refunds under the diesel rebate scheme.

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The high court’s ruling was a continuation of its previous judgment on 12 January 2024 where it rejected bpSA’s appeal under Section 47(9)(e) of the Customs and Excise Act against the determinations made by the taxman under the act.

The commissioner determined that bpSA did not qualify for refunds of duty paid on fuel that the oil group claims was exported to Zimbabwe. This is because bpSA cannot provide evidence that fuel was indeed exported to Zimbabwe, nor can it identify the consignee who received the export delivery in Zimbabwe.

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The oil group contended that the high court should have also referred the appeal on the commissioner’s customs determination to trial. However, the high court rejected this request, stating that there was no dispute of facts regarding customs determination, but only on forfeiture.

“Sars has had to deal with this phenomenon of phantom exports with attendant costs to the fiscus, resulting in underserved refunds,” Kieswetter noted.

Sars says it is working diligently to help taxpayers fulfil their legal obligations and promote trade facilitation. Nevertheless, it will impose stringent measures and incur costs for taxpayers who engage in non-compliant behaviour.

“This will be pursued without fear, favour or prejudice,” declared Kieswetter.

* Terri-Ann Brouwers is a Moneyweb intern. 

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