Tax in your mother tongue

South African Revenue Service (Sars) Commissioner Edward Kieswetter has launched a new initiative to translate popular tax terminologies to all 11 eleven official languages.

The organisation is now promoting the use of historically marginalised languages in the tax and customs environment.

Sars new multilingual tax terminology publication contains 450 terms in all official languages, namely Sesotho, Setswana, Sepedi, Tshivenḓa, Xitsonga, IsiNdebele, Siswati, IsiZulu, IsiXhosa and Afrikaans. 

This list covers the wide spectrum of financial terminologies, such as tax, wills, and general financial business practices. 

Kieswetter said that Sars is striving to provide greater clarity and certainty to its taxpayers in all 11 official languages.

“Former President Nelson Mandela himself reminded us of the power of language when he said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his own language, that touches their heart,” said Kieswetter.

Some languages are on the verge of extinction because their speakers were decimated or assimilated into other cultures. 

“Since 1994, the government has been addressing this issue as language can build bridges between individuals, between communities, and in our case, can build trust and improve our service to taxpayers and traders,” said Kieswetter.

The Use of Official Languages Act (UOLA) was signed into law in 2013. 

The Sars Language Services Unit supports the Taxpayer and Traders Education initiatives as it goes to communities to educate taxpayers in their own language about the importance of tax compliance.

“This is the 25th anniversary of Sars, and contributing to further our efforts the multilingual tax terminology publication is not only our gift to the taxpayers, traders and the citizens of South Africa, whose mother-tongue is not necessarily English, but to our staff who interact with our taxpayers and ensures that they do so using the correct terms as approved by the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB).” 

“We acknowledge and commend this progressive piece of work done by more than 140 contributors in realising this milestone,” said Kieswetter.

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