South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Edward Kieswetter said that the risk of a tax revolt in South Africa is always present.
However, he believes that most South Africans know it is not the right thing to do and advises them to turn to activism instead of withholding tax payments.
Kieswetter said frustrated taxpayers are often confronted with the question of why they should pay taxes when the government wastes the money.
South African taxpayers don’t receive reliable services from the state and have to pay for private security, private schooling, private healthcare and, increasingly, private power supplies.
Despite this unhappiness, Kieswetter should not be used as a justification for not paying taxes.
“Any contribution to further a lack of law and order makes you part of the problem,” the SARS commissioner said.
“When you don’t pay taxes, it’s not the government that suffers, but rather the most vulnerable in society that ultimately benefits from the government’s social programmes.”
“My message to those who believe that withholding taxes is the best response is that it would simply aggravate the problem,” he said.
“Let’s get off our seats and be activists to work toward building this society, and if this government doesn’t deliver, they shouldn’t be in power.”
The tax commissioner’s comments come as the ruling ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa face criticism over record power cuts.
Eskom, which has been struggling to meet demand for about 15 years, imposed blackouts for more than 200 days in 2022 and every day so far this year.
Severe power outages are also affecting the supply of water in some of the nation’s biggest cities.
The crisis is forcing the country’s affluent minority to turn to the private sector, with increased demand for back-up power and rainwater harvesting.
The tax agency and National Treasury are engaging on potential relief measures for those that opt for costly alternatives to Eskom, Kieswetter said.