ITR Global Tax 50 2022: Edward Kieswetter
Commissioner of SARS
Commissioner Edward Kieswetter has been working hard to rebuild the reputation of the South African Revenue Service after the tax authority was rocked by a series of scandals before he took over.
Kieswetter has cracked down hard on sleaze in SARS and welcomed lengthy prison sentences for officers convicted of corruption. He has also set out to reorganise the service and established a tax unit focused on high-net-worth individuals.
Kieswetter has relaunched the Large Business Centre (LBC), stabilised the IT division and re-established the High Court Litigation Unit. He also opened a review of all disciplinary cases since 2014 and, in some cases, reinstated officers absolved of old allegations.
South African businesses have been impressed with Kieswetter. He made a point of inviting CEOs to the relaunch of the LBC and making it clear that taxpayers have a seat at the table when it comes to government discussions.
When Kieswetter took over at SARS in May 2019, the South African tax authority was mired in allegations of state capture and the corruption scandals around former President Jacob Zuma. He was tasked with cleaning up the service’s reputation.
Three years after Kieswetter took on the job of commissioner, SARS is in a much better position than it was in 2019. However, Kieswetter has said his work will still be incomplete when he plans to retire in two years.