The SA Revenue Service (SARS) says it will oppose a bid by two media companies to have the Constitutional Court confirm a high court finding that sections of SA’s tax law that allow for absolute tax payer confidentiality are unconstitutional.
The opposition relates to a ruling of the Gauteng North High Court in Pretoria, which ordered the tax agency to share the personal tax files of former president Jacob Zuma with investigative journalism site amaBhungane and weekly business magazine the Financial Mail.
SARS had initially refused to share Zuma’s tax records with the media, citing tax payer confidentiality.
Judge Norman Davis, however, ruled that sections of the Tax Administration Act (as well as the Promotion of Access to Information Act), which allowed for absolute taxpayer secrecy were unconstitutional. Davis ruled there had to be a public interest exception to this broad rule.
As the ruling dealt with constitutional matters, South Africa’s apex court has to either confirm or reject the ruling. No date has yet been set for the case to begin.
Analysts think it likely that SARS will also ask for direct leave to appeal the ruling that it has to share Zuma’s record with the media. The agency has not yet announced whether it intends to do so.