SARS has apologised after it issued a threatening message last week warning taxpayers that they would be penalised and criminally prosecuted if their tax status was deemed to be non-compliant.

Fin24 report notes that the offending message was issued as a general warning via SMS on 24 October, which cautioned that failure to submit a tax return was a criminal offence and that if returns were not submitted within 10 days of receiving the message, it would result in the initiation of a ‘criminal process’.

The message also warned that offenders would be issued with a ‘notice of intention to summons’.

However, on Wednesday, SARS has since appeared to backtrack from the threatening message, saying it was merely striving to remind taxpayers of their legal obligation to file their returns, as well as the potential consequences for not doing so.

‘The SMS message that was sent out earlier this week, in relation to outstanding returns, fell short of the high professional standard we seek to uphold,’ SARS said in its apology. 

Full Fin24 report