British American Tobacco SA says SARS allegations of fraud are unfounded

The tobacco manufacturer says that, in fact, they are owed a R30 million tax rebate.

British American Tobacco South Africa (BAT-SA) released a statement on Sunday, stating that the allegations made against them by the South african Revenue Service (SARS) are not true. 

The statement followed an article in the Sunday Times, which stated that SARS wrote a letter to BAT-SA, dated October last year. 

It stated that BAT-SA owes SARS R143 million after a SARS audit discovered “fraud and tax evasion”. 

BAT-SA’s responding statement read: 

“We don’t owe any money for underpaying tax. We are, in fact, owed money for overpaying. That is why we are due this R30 million rebate.” 

According to BAT-SA, it collected and paid more than R9.1 billion in taxes in South Africa last year and expects to receive the rebate from SARS for overpaid taxes. 

The Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (Tisa) chair Francois van der Merwe confirmed BAT-SA’s statement to Fin24, saying that the allegations are “totally inaccurate”. 

"BAT is a legitimate company, paying all its taxes, the biggest excise contributor in the tobacco industry and an accredited member of Tisa, which represents the legal (tobacco) industry," Francois said.