South Africa: VAT numbers declared on customs documents monitored

Importers/exporters need to take the necessary steps to provide that their VAT numbers are correctly declared on all bills of entry.

VAT numbers declared on customs documents monitored

Following a recent review of the data declared on customs documents (bills of entry), the South African Revenue Service (SARS) informed external stakeholders that it found that importers/exporters do not always declare their value added tax (VAT) numbers on these documents, or that the incorrect VAT numbers are declared.

SARS has indicated that it will be monitoring customs clearances over the next 30 days, after which non-compliant importers/exporters will be contacted and advised of steps to maintain compliance.

Non- or incorrect declarations of VAT numbers may lead to SARS not accepting the declaration and/or arguing that the customs documentation is not valid. This may lead to input tax deductions claimed on VAT returns to be denied by SARS and/or SARS concluding that the prescribed supporting documentation for zero-rated exports has not been obtained. In addition to VAT exposures, this may result in administrative penalties being levied from a customs perspective going forward.

KPMG observation

Importers/exporters need to take the necessary steps to provide that their VAT numbers are correctly declared on all bills of entry. This could be done by contacting clearing agents to verify that the VAT numbers are correct and are declared on bills of entry. SARS further advised that going forward, importers/exporters will be notified via electronic response messages when the VAT number on customs declarations has not been declared or is incorrect.

Read a May 2023 report [PDF 259 KB] prepared by the KPMG member firm in South Africa


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