Sars can transform IT integration alongside private sector

16th August 2019 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Sars can transform IT integration alongside private sector

HENNIE FERREIRA The accounting profession is changing with the introduction of new technologies and accountants will take on more strategic and advisory roles

Local small business digital accounting company Osidon’s smart, automated systems cannot integrate with those of the South African Revenue Service (Sars), but, while Sars is yet to upgrade its integration systems, partnering with the private sector can help Sars spend less than the estimated R1-billion required, says Osidon cofounder and CEO Hennie Ferreira.

In the UK and the US, a tax practitioner is able to integrate with the local revenue services. With Sars, there is very limited integration when it comes to income tax and no integration support for value-added tax or employer declarations, he says.

“System integration relates to all accounting programs, as well as payroll systems. If there is an integration process, it will save a lot of time and money for business owners and tax practitioners, while simultaneously ensuring that compliance will be more effective. Sars will be able to increase its revenue because more people will be able to make use of the services,” he says.

With Osidon’s system, business owners will have access to live reporting of their financial statements, as opposed to weekly or monthly reports as in the past. This will help business owners to plan and make business decisions based on live information, he avers.

“We have created a futureproof compliance and taxation product and the whole accounting industry is being systemised. A key problem is the lack of support from Sars when it comes to integration,” he reiterates.

Ferreira says the current system makes compliance a challenge.

“The other, greater challenge is the fact that the current Adobe Flash system is outdated and will be discontinued by next year. We have heard predictions that this could cause disruptions if not given attention.”

Sars must extend its support for integration, he avers. Sars’ digitalisation programme started in 2007 and was meant to automate revenue collection systems to improve efficiency and curb corruption. It was supposed to be completed in 2015. The process was, however, brought to a standstill.

“It is estimated that it will cost about R1-billion to fix problems with the revenue service’s digital systems and take between two to five years to complete. Sars does not have this leeway because the technology will be unsupported when Flash support is discontinued in 2020.”

Osidon has developed browsing robots and automated systems to compensate for the lack of integration by Sars to save clients time and money. It also develops systems continually and “there is no reason why an upgrade should cost this much or take so long to complete”, says Ferreira.

Osidon, and other payroll organisations, would be willing to find a speedy solution with Sars. The importance of being able to integrate with the Sars systems cannot be underestimated, he states.

“Accounting is more competitive today than ever before. Smart and automated systems present an immense opportunity to accountants and promise to bring a new standard of efficiency to the profession’s specific set of decisions and tasks. Many tedious accounting tasks can be performed by intelligent automated systems, allowing professionals to focus on more advisory roles that bring greater value to clients.”

Regulatory and industry bodies, including the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, have included information technology as part of their syllabus and recognise the importance of technology in the industry, he says.

Further, employment for accountants is expected to grow by 10% through to 2026, owing to the shifts in the industry and the profession, he adds.

“New technologies can do the tedious, time-consuming work such as data entries and reconciliation and will help to eliminate errors. “Accountants will, therefore, be more able to serve in advisory roles. They will be able to focus on strategy, such as process improvement, cost control and capital optimisation, yet will retain control over sensitive information.”