SARS wants to increase its workforce by 800 – these are the skills it wants

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) plans to increase its workforce by nearly 800 people over the next three years and is looking to increase its capacity for high-tech skills.

SARS says its workforce has had morale problems in recent years, largely caused by the previous administration trying to break down organizational integrity within the revenue service.

SARS’s 2020/2021 annual report shows that it has a total headcount of 12,479 employees.

The group is working not only to rebuild trust with taxpayers, but also says it will strategically focus on strengthening employee engagement and appointing ethical and knowledgeable managers to ensure teams can meet current and future needs.

To this end, the Revenue Agency also expects an increase in the workforce, from 12,350 employees in the workforce at the end of December 2021, to approximately 13,150 employees by the year 2024/25.

The addition of around 800 new employees will coincide with other workforce strategies such as skills upgrading and retraining, he said. This is so that the revenue service can focus on new and emerging technologies, which, in his opinion, will completely transform the way his mandate is carried out.

These technologies include, among others:

  • 5G
  • Blockchain
  • artificial intelligence
  • automatic learning
  • cloud computing

These technologies will facilitate interactions between payers and operators, which will be diverse and reduce the compliance burden, SARS said.

“We also anticipate a big impact on our employees as current roles are sure to evolve from predominantly administrative functions to more analytical work, and this has implications for our staffing model and resource mix,” he said.

It said it will develop the new skills required, including retraining current staff, skills and abilities to integrate adaptation to these new technological developments, and invest in new digital systems and processes to create a seamless experience for payers and operators.

It will also “aggressively encourage taxpayers and traders to use online platforms” when engaging with SARS.

“Our human capacity must evolve to integrate the growing levels of automated processing and artificial intelligence enabled by data, supercomputers and real-time connectivity,” he said.

Technological boost

SARS has pushed to use computer algorithms, machine learning and other advanced technologies to ensure taxpayer compliance.

In its annual report published in October 2021, the revenue collector said it had “significantly expanded the scope of detection”, beyond the data obtained through declarations, as well as the traditional third-party data received which enabled the pre-compilation of PIT declarations, as well as automatic assessments.

It has implemented several machine learning models that leverage multiple sources of asset data and income streams to detect under-reporting and under-reporting and indicated that it will increasingly use AI in the next few years to crack down on non-conformities.

The group said its “Vision 2024” is to build a “smart modern tax authority”, seeking specialized expertise in the following fields:

  • IT specialists, including developers, database administrators, security and software engineers, SAP specialists, and integration designers;
  • Data management specialists, including data analysts and data scientists;
  • audit and risk specialists;
  • Investigative specialists, in particular criminal investigators and statutory auditors;
  • research analysts;
  • social scientists;
  • project leaders;
  • legal specialists; Other
  • Regulatory and risk specialists.

Reading: SARS has a plan to increase tax collection in South Africa