More bucks for taxman’s ICT capabilities

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 26 Oct 2022

MTBPS 2022: Like the National Prosecuting Authority, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) will receive more bucks in its budget to improve its ICT capabilities.

This was presented in the 2022 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) presented by National Treasury.

Says the MTBPS: “The South African Revenue Service will receive additional funds to improve information and communications technology capacity and revenue collection capabilities, and to report on tax administration digital resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the past, the revenue authority’s ICT infrastructure was the subject of much debate.

Under its current leadership, SARS has set itself a new vision, aiming to become a smart, modern revenue service, where its work will increasingly be informed by data-driven insights, self-learning computers, artificial intelligence (AI) and interconnectivity of people and devices.

Last year, SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter revealed the organisation has increased its competency in developing machine learning algorithms and AI to augment human effort.

These efforts, he stated, enabled SARS to provide its auto-assessment functionality, as well as the ability to detect non-compliance.

The commissioner further highlighted the revenue authority’s increasing use of data as an indispensable asset, describing data as the “new gold”.