New tax amnesty unveiled for South Africans

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South Africans with undeclared offshore assets and income are to be given a chance to regularise their situation during a six-month disclosure facility later this year, officials there have announced.

The so-called Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme will go live in October, and will be available to individuals and companies but not to trusts, sources said.

In his budget speech last week, South Africa finance minister Pravin Gordhan noted that the coming enactment, in 2017,of the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard will enable tax authorities everywhere “to act more effectively against illicit flows and abusive practices by multinational corporations and wealthy individuals”.

Against this backdrop, he added, time was “now running out for taxpayers who still have undisclosed assets abroad”.

“With next year’s deadline in mind, additional relief will be offered for a period of six
months, from October this year, to allow non-compliant taxpayers to regularise their
affairs,” he said.

Further details would follow, he continued, with the publication in due course, on the government’s website, of a draft version of the disclosure programme.

Sources familiar with South Africa’s tax history noted that this won’t be the country’s first such tax disclosure facility.

To see the finance minister’s speech in full – which also includes details of an increase to capital gains tax rates by three percentage points for individuals and six for trusts, as well as new taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, tyres (to finance a recycling programme) and increases in the country’s plastic bag levy, motor vehicle emissions tax and duties on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, click here.

To read a recent analysis of the OECD’s Common Reporting Standards regime by Moore Stephens partner Geoff Woodhouse, click here.