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SARS will now use artificial intelligence to make ‘it hard and costly’ to dodge tax

| Economic factors

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) said going forward its work will increasingly be informed by data-driven insights, self-learning computers, and artificial intelligence in a bid to fight tax evasion.

Sars said it would, therefore, hire several executives in data-driven positions to harness the advances in big data and artificial intelligence for the tax collector. 

It is also in the process of modernising its systems to provide digital and streamlined services to the public, and rebuild trust and confidence in the tax collector. 

“SARS’ strategic objectives include, amongst others, providing clarity and certainty of tax obligations, making it easier for taxpayers and traders to comply, detecting those who do not comply and making it hard and costly for them,” Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said. 

Kieswetter said the SARS of the future, therefore, must be able to respond to a new data-driven global environment while fulfilling its higher purpose of enabling the government to build a capable state. 

To achieve its goal of being a future-orientated and respected institution, SARS said it is hiring a new chief data scientist, chief technology innovation officer, chief financial officer, chief procurement officer, director business segment: large & international taxpayers (formerly large business centre), director individual segment: wealthy and complex taxpayers, nine regional directors and a director: taxpayer engagement. 

Kieswetter said the organisation is looking forward to recruiting internal staff for some of these positions, but also wants to enrich the current “gene pool” with future-orientated skills and fresh perspectives. 

“This recruitment process will reaffirm SARS’ commitment to the transformation agenda of our country and the advancement of employment equity and diversity in the workplace.” 

 “Our Vision 2024 is to build a smart modern SARS, with unquestionable integrity, trusted by government, the public and our international peers.”

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