Am I obliged to make payment immediately when I receive a demand from SARS?

If you receive a letter of demand from SARS and intend disputing the content of the letter i.e. the alleged contravention, then it is advisable to request that SARS suspend payment pending the finalisation of the appeal process (SARS is under no obligation to grant the suspension).  If, however, you do not intend disputing the letter of demand, then payment must be made to SARS within the timeframe referred to in the letter of demand - usually 7 days.

When payment is suspended by SARS, is interest also suspended?

No, interest is not suspended.  If the debt is suspended pending finalisation of a dispute and the outcome of such dispute is not in your favour, the full amount demanded plus any interest that has accrued during the suspension period will become payable.

What are some of the risks involved in registering a rebate store?

Registering a rebate store allows an importer to bring goods into the Republic under rebate of duty.  However, since the goods are still under customs control, the rebate registrant is accountable to SARS for any potential VAT or duty on those goods until they are cleared for home consumption or the manufactured article is removed from the warehouse.  As a rebate registrant, one is required to maintain strict record-keeping and control of goods that enter the Republic.  As it is a customs controlled area, SARS has the right to enter the premises for inspections.  Should you wish to to register as a rebate registrant, you must take note of the following:

  • A bond, the value of which is determined by SARS, must be registered with SARS
  • Maintain a strict record of the goods entering the warehouse and what has been used in production
  • Only goods imported under rebate may be stored in a rebate store
  • SARS will conduct regular inspections to ensure that the provisions of the specific rebate item have been adhered to
  • With regard to losses, SARS is entitled to call for duty and VAT on such goods

Can I import /export without registering with SARS?

The general principle is that a person must be registered with SARS in order to import or export goods.  However, provision is made for the use of customs code: 70707070.  In terms of Rule 59A.03(1) of the Customs and Excise Act No. 91 of 1964, registration number 70707070 may only be used under the following conditions:

  • The importer / exporter imports or exports a minimum of 3 consignments per year where the value of each consignment is less than R50 000;
  • For declaring goods for home consumption, temporary export or export, i.e.: not clearance under rebate;
  • The person is a natural person located in the Republic; and 
  • Such person must reflect his/her identity number or tax payer reference number in the field provided on the SAD500.

Is duty and VAT payable when a gift is sent from overseas?  If so, what does SARS base its calculations on and who must make payment?

Rebate Item 412.10 allows for the importation of bona fide unsolicited gifts of not more than two parcels per person per calendar year.  The value per parcel must not exceed R400 (excluding: wine, spirits and manufactured tobacco / including: cigarettes and cigars).  Schedule 1 of the Value Added Tax Act No. 89 of 1991 further exempts goods imported under this rebate item from the payment of VAT.  However, if the value of the parcel exceeds R400 or if the individual has received more than two parcels in a calendar year, both VAT and duty will be payable.  The tariff code will be assessed by SARS and the duty determined based on the applicable tariff code(s) and the declared value.  The amount determined by SARS will be payable upon collection of the parcel.