Meet Merlin

Digital tools play an essential role in improving compliance and detecting non-compliance at SARS. We speak to Intikhab Shaik, head of technology and solutions delivery at SARS.

01 February 2024

Intikhab Shaik

Intikhab Shaik introduces himself as Merlin. “I call myself Merlin because I’m expected to bring to reality everything and anything that the business thinks about,” he jokes. As the head of technology and solutions delivery at the South African Revenue Service (SARS), he explains that right now, that means coming up with ways to do more with a whole lot less. This is where finding the right tools and technologies can help.

For example, he says, SARS has put machine learning (ML) and AI to good use as part of its debt propensity model. These tools help the revenue service assess what the most “collectible debt” is, and then it allocates its resources toward actually collecting that debt. Similarly, it uses ML quite extensively as part of its risk assessment ecosystem, which informs how it decides which companies or individuals to audit. In future, Shaik says, the hope is to use AI and large language model capabilities to deliver automated audits by scanning all supporting docs and comparing these with a tax return.

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