Repository logo

Exploring perceptions of South African Police Service investigators and National Prosecuting Authority prosecutors on personal income tax fraud in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



It is common knowledge that many people in South Africa perceive income tax as being unavoidable, as all natural and artificial persons in South Africa are liable to pay taxes. One of the biggest sources of revenue for the South African government to render adequate services to the public is income tax. However, tax fraud is detrimental and results in poor service delivery to the public. A shadow economy becomes noticeable when individuals defraud the South African Revenue Service (SARS), which has a negative impact on South Africa’s economic development and sustainability. The most common form of fraud against the government is tax fraud, which mainly occurs when taxpayers do not pay their taxes or find illegal ways to avoid paying outstanding taxes. The commission of this crime involves underreporting income and submitting falsified documents to SARS with the intention of not paying tax. Moreover, people who pretend to be tax practitioners that are attached to SARS defraud this department by using unwitting taxpayers as a shield. In some cases, employed SARS tax practitioners conspire with taxpayers to defraud SARS. This qualitative study applied an exploratory, descriptive research design with the aim of exploring and describing the perceptions of selected members of the Durban SAPS DPCI and the NPA DPP STU on personal income tax fraud in Durban. The targeted sample that was used in this study comprised five SAPS investigators who were engaged in in-depth interviews. These participants were generally employed to investigate personal income tax fraud. Moreover, eight NPA DPP STU officials (Senior State Advocates and State Prosecutors) from Durban were engaged in key informant interviews (KIIs). Overall, thirteen participants were sampled purposively by selecting individuals who would possess rich information on the topic under investigation. Participants with vast experience in investigating the scourge of tax evasion were therefore selected. The data collection methods involved in-depth individual semi-structured interviews, and a review of related documents and literature. The interviews were transcribed and the data were interpreted by using codes or categories of themes that followed chronologically. This study suggests that syndicates that defraud SARS use E-filing as a predominant method of tax avoidance. This system seems to allow defrauders to falsify the information that is provided by the applicant, and it appears that such taxpayers collude with tax consultants, personnel attached to SARS, and other knowledgeable private individuals. Poor individuals are also prone to committing this crime, or are unwittingly manipulated to do so, particularly because their lack of knowledge regarding tax associated processes exposes them to dangerous syndicates who take advantage of their ignorance. This study found that the relationship between the SAPS DPCI, NPA DPP STU and SARS in Durban was in its infancy. It is suggested this relationship be healed and extended as a matter of urgency. Moreover, the justice system does not appear to help to bring tax criminals to heel as it does not give sentences that deter tax fraud crime. A recommendation that is offered is that the SAPS DPCI in Durban should call for the improvement of SARS E-filing system to detect falsified information by tracing the history of, applicants. Investigators should closely look at current trends to improve present investigation techniques. SARS in Durban should also stage internal investigations to monitor the claims made before tax returns are paid out.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.