The South African Institute of Tax (SAIT), in collaboration with Tax Consulting South Africa, hosted the largest of its kind workshop the past week named the Offshore Wealth/Trust Considerations and Citizenship by Investment: Looking Next Door.
This provided the latest insights directly from SARS and industry-leading experts, pulling both from South African practical and international experience.
Insights from Influential Thought Leaders
Keynote speakers included Natasha Singh (Director: High Wealth Individuals Unit at SARS); Keith Engel (CEO of SAIT); Amanda Smit (Managing Partner for Henley & Partners for South Africa); and Jerry Botha and Darren Britz (Partners at Tax Consulting SA).
Jerry Botha and Professor Keith Engel opened the event, setting the scene on how the tax changes have impacted the modern tax practice, high net worth and international individuals, and the wider professional advisory space. Both noted that these changes, while documentarily burdensome, follow a standard seen all over the world. It is clear that SARS, and various other government organizations, are changing the way they manage financial information. A crucial aspect of these changes is detecting and eradicating non-compliance at all levels.
Botha noted that, despite the multitude of changes, for his practice, these are “exciting times.” He outlined the clear need for cross-sector and intra-organisational collaboration, as disclosures now made will effectively create a permanent record for SARS. This will be cross-referenced with other disclosures to financial institutions and authorities, so a uniform compliance roadmap and strategy is needed.
Engel ended off this recap with the perfect summary of the new tax landscape: “We have moved from passive compliance to active compliance.”
SARS Provides Critical Insights
Natasha Singh again demonstrated why she is one of the most highly regarded in the tax profession. The attendee feedback was across the board that she is exceptional and that she demonstrates the quality of the modern SARS professional. As the Director of SARS’ High Wealth Individual (HWI) Unit provided eye-opening insights into SARS’ use of emerging technologies to ensure compliance at all levels, including at the HNW level.
She further reiterated that the revenue authority seeks to ensure compliance is made easy through these various updates to the tax landscape. Singh went on to note that SARS is no longer solely relying on taxpayer declarations but also on data received from third-party information sharing – which she noted has been a “game changer.”
Singh stated that she felt heartened by Botha’s sentiments on collaboration and cooperation during the opening segment, mentioning that SARS is “in the same boat” and wants to work with tax professionals and taxpayers.
Collaboration Is the Way Forward
Other spotlighted topics included an in-depth analysis of the new Approval for International Transfer (AIT) process with Forex considerations, favoured foreign jurisdictions of HNW South Africans and obtaining a Plan B passport. Additionally, speakers unpacked the very detailed new requirements for Trusts and managing offshore trusts and wealth.
The common message emerged that collaboration between taxpayers and their practitioners, alongside inter-organisational cooperation, is essential in ensuring compliance.
Chair, Keitumetse Sesana (Tax Technical Specialist from SAIT), accurately noted that the keywords from this workshop were compliance; transparency; collaboration.
Darren Britz (Partner at Tax Consulting SA) highlighted that one way to ensure one meets all these keywords when looking next door to set up wealth and trust structures is by having a detailed roadmap, as a compliance and tax planning roadmap is critical for optimal delivering on client needs.
The Perfect Appetizer
This event received overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees. It was the perfect appetizer for SAIT’s 10th Annual Tax Indaba, which promises to continue the conversation on the ever-changing South African tax landscape. The three-day event takes place from 11-13 September 2023, and more information is available on the Institute’s website.
Botha and Engel closed off by highlighting that the tax landscape will continue to change, but this is now an era of transparency, and the need to become and remain compliant is best done sooner rather than later.