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Your social media posts might flag you with SARS

Flashing your money on social media could get you flagged in a "lifestyle audit" with SARS

According to SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter, some South Africans who came into money were eager to “display their wealth”, giving cause for SARS to look into the income of these individuals.

In many cases, SARS found that there was a major disconnect between the income that was being declared and the type of lifestyle that these individuals were leading, according to third-party data. These include social media platforms.

As we already know, people are often incredibly zealous to show their wins on social media, creating a rich platform for SARS to dive deep into the lives of those that they believe are living luxurious lifestyles, without paying the price for it.

In addition, tax avoidance is not simply limited to personal taxpayers. According to Kieswetter, people were using the church and other religious institutions for self-enrichment. In these cases, priests and ministers misrepresented their income by claiming to live off church tithes, but once SARS investigated, they found that their lifestyle is not that of a priest or minister. About R750 million in assets have been tied to religious leaders.

At TaxTim, we advise you to declare your income accurately and beware of what you share on your social media profiles. It is not advisable to brag about your new car, while owing money to SARS, Once SARS finds irregularities in your taxpaying behaviour, your relationship with SARS will be negatively impacted.

If you have not been forthcoming in terms of declaring your income, disclose this information through SARS’ Voluntary Disclosure Programme (VDP). Once a lifestyle audit is conducted, the VDP will no longer be available and the consequences may be quite severe.

In conclusion, Kieswetter says that SARS wants to create a system that engenders rather than enforces compliance and in order to do, South Africans need to be clear about their taxpaying obligations.

Do you need help declaring your taxes? Check out some of our helpful step-by-step guides and tutorials. Or you can consult one of our tax experts and make sure that you are in the clear with SARS today.

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