The Voluntary Disclosure Programme ("VDP") formally closed on 31 October 2011.

In terms of the process, applicants had to complete a VDP01 form either through e-Filing or by submitting the form to a South African Revenue Service ("SARS") branch office. The form had to be accompanied by supporting documents setting out the background relating to the defaults, as well as the calculations.

Section 7 of the Voluntary Disclosure Programme and Taxation Laws Second Amendment Act No. 8 of 2010 provides that after the submission of the application, a written Voluntary Disclosure Agreement will be entered into between the Commissioner and the applicant. Section 9 further provides that once a Voluntary Disclosure Agreement has been concluded, an assessment will be issued to give effect to the agreement.

However, if you thought that once the application had been submitted that that was the end of the process, you are mistaken. The further process to finalise a VDP application appears cumbersome.

Applicants under the VDP are required to re-complete their tax returns for the relevant years, namely, 2005 to 2009, by combining the original information submitted in the tax return with the information supplied in the VDP01 form. The documents have to be completed manually – the documents provided cannot be completed or filed electronically. This process is not referred to in the legislation.

Taxpayers should take note that the process to complete the documents required by SARS is time consuming and cumbersome. It would be wise to ensure that all the tax returns filed previously are readily available.

By adopting this process, SARS has created the need for human intervention as the information provided will have to be manually transcribed, which increases the potential for errors.

It would have been preferable and more efficient if SARS had made the previous returns submitted by taxpayers available to them to amend via e-Filing.

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