The extent of corporate taxes (from income tax, employment taxes, and value-added tax (VAT), to dividend taxes, capital gains taxes, transaction taxes, and other indirect taxes) along with the operational aspects, such as data and reporting systems and related technicalities, guarantee complexity and time-consuming processes for companies, which in turn increases compliance costs.
This also compounds other tax risks such as underestimation; underpayments; overpayments; not applying the correct tax savings and incentives; tax penalties (such as the 10% late payment penalty); the inability to meet tax obligations; assessments and audits.
Compliance costs are another growing tax risk. Studies suggest that companies spend hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of Rands each year on internal tax compliance costs such as labor or time devoted to tax activities and incidental compliance expenses, and on external tax, compliance costs like tax practitioners’ fees.
In addition, tax issues can place a company’s reputation and brand at risk. An example would be a company losing a tender on a large contract because it was unable to provide a tax clearance certificate, perhaps due to a technical or minor non-compliance issue. Companies also face the risk that a tax issue could attract negative attention from the media, civil society, or competitors, as growing numbers of stakeholders ranging from customers to potential investors increasingly support only companies perceived to be contributing their fair share to the country and community in which it operates.
Why tax risk management will be even more critical in 2021
All these tax risks will be amplified in 2021 for a number of reasons, including increased tax liabilities; intensified taxpayer scrutiny; and the further entrenchment of SARS’ powers.
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