Tax ombudsman to investigate SARS over growing complaints

Tax ombudsman, Judge Bernard Makgabo Ngoepe has obtained approval from the minister of finance to conduct two reviews on SARS.

In a statement released on Wednesday (19 September), the ombudsman said that the first review pertains to problems in relation to the fluidity of Pay as You Earn (PAYE) statements of accounts.

The second review will relate to SARS’s disregard of the timeframes prescribed by the rules for the resolution of disputes.

“The approach to the minister was prompted by complaints received by the tax ombud from taxpayers and industry bodies,” he said.

“It is hoped that, as a contribution towards facilitating revenue collection and building confidence in the tax system, necessary recommendations will be made at the end if need be.”

Other complaints 

At the end of August the ombudsman released a full breakdown of reported complaints against the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

CEO in the office of the Tax Ombudsman, Eric Mkhawane, said taxpayers and businesses have result increasingly approached the ombudsman to intervene with issues against the taxman.

“For the Office of the Tax Ombud (OTO), a systemic issue is a particular matter that can be regarded as the underlying cause for a complaint that affects, or will affect, a number of taxpayers in the tax system,” it explained.

“Systemic issues may arise due to how specific systems in the SARS function; the way in which SARS’s policies, practices or procedures are drafted and implemented; or even the manner in which legislative provisions are applied or disregarded.”

Five of the most prominent systemic issues identified by the OTO include:

  1. Delay in the payment of refunds
  2. Incorrect allocation by SARS of payments made by taxpayers
  3. Taxpayers being affected by employer’s non-compliance with legislation relating to IRP5s
  4. Inconsistency by SARS in providing taxpayers with timelines for finalisation of audits/verifications
  5. Victims of identity theft being held liable for tax debts

Read: Delayed refunds, identity theft, and other major complaints with SARS right now

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Tax ombudsman to investigate SARS over growing complaints