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Knowing your rights when it comes to taxes

Since the introduction of the Tax Administration Act in 2011, which aimed to consolidate most of the administrative matters in tax acts, taxpayers have become ever more aware of their rights in dealing with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). There has also been a significant increase in the number of cases in the Tax Court (as well as in our High Courts) that relate not to substantive tax matters, but rather to the exercise of taxpayers’ rights. We briefly highlight below some of the rights that taxpayers have in terms of the Tax Administration Act, and which they may wish to enforce at some stage.

  • You are entitled to receive reasons for any assessment that SARS raises and any taxes it imposes. Therefore, SARS is not allowed to simply raise assessments without giving you (when called on in terms of the dispute resolution rules) a full understanding of their justification and their interpretation of the law, which underlies the specific matter.
  • SARS is not allowed to appoint a third party to deduct money from your account (for example, a bank) without providing you with the proper notice at least ten days in advance, as well as providing you with remedies to address the matter.
  • SARS is not entitled to divulge your information (except as required by law) to any third parties.
  • Provided that your returns were free of material deficiencies, SARS must pay interest on delayed VAT refunds. This is a matter that is often overlooked in practice since taxpayers are all too happy to receive the actual VAT amount – do not forget about your interest!
  • SARS must provide you with a tax clearance certificate within 21 business days after the submission of an application. More and more institutions require the issuance of tax clearance certificates for general business purposes.

Although taxpayers have many rights afforded to them, one often finds a practical challenge in exercising those rights. The legislation provides for relief in certain circumstances but does not prescribe a form and manner in which taxpayers must utilise that relief (for example, an application for a reduced assessment where there has been an undisputed factual error). Although the law provides for relief, the Act does not prescribe how that relief must be exercised.

This is one of the clear shortcomings within our system of tax administration and one hopes that in due course, National Treasury and the Minister of Finance will identify these fallibilities as a systemic issue within the administration of our tax system, in order to approach the Tax Ombud to make recommendations on how taxpayers can exercise their rights afforded to them daily.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).

Michael Phillips

CA(SA) Registered Auditor – Director

Mike is the director of RDL Chartered Accountants Inc. and as a Registered Auditor has the knowledge and ability to comply with the latest auditing standards and financial reporting requirements and he completes all the statutory audits required by our clients.

Chris Johnson

Trainee Accountant

Chris, studying for his Chartered Certified Accountant [ACCA] qualification joined the practice in February 2016 and maintains a portfolio of clients attending to the write up of client general ledgers to trial balance, completion and submission of client statutory returns and management accounts. Chris holds a Diploma in Accounting and Business from ACCA and is a registered Business Accountant with SAIBA.

Hendrietta Soafo

Statutory Clerk

Hendrietta has been with LDC since 2004 and oversees the entire statutory function of LDC. She communicates regularly with the Regulator – CIPC and ensures that all of our clients are in good standing in respect of annual returns, company registers, share registers and directors and officers registers. She also attends to all new company incorporations, director appointments, share transfers and minutes of meetings.

Lisa Sampson

Senior Bookkeeper

Lisa, a Certified Bookkeeper joined LDC in 2008 and oversees the bookkeeping role of all LDC clients. She has extensive Pastel Accounting and Payroll experience and prepares all client files for year end annual financial statements. She also ensures all statutory returns are completed and submitted to the various governmental departments.

Teresa Verdonese

Tax Manager

Teresa has a B Com Accounting and an LLB (University of Johannesburg), and is in process of completing her Diploma in Advanced Taxation (UNISA). She specialises in Corporate & Individual taxation & manages the tax base from preparation to assessment. Teresa is a Registered General Tax Practitioner with the South Africa Institute of Tax Practitioners (SAIT).

Paddy Crichton

CA(SA) – Director – Accounting

Paddy completed his CTA at the University of the Witwatersrand and articles at Aiken and Carter (now KPMG) where he qualified as a chartered accountant. Prior to joining LDC in June 2017 he was employed as Financial Manager and Company Secretary in manufacturing and wholesale distribution companies, most recently as Financial Director of a leading international kitchen appliance distributor. Paddy oversees the full accounting function of LDC

Bob Lees

FCG(CS) FCIBM Professional Accountant (SA) – Managing Director

Bob started the practice in September 1991 and is the Chairman and Managing Director in overall charge of LDC Accounting and Tax Consultants Inc. He has three professional business qualifications and holds practicing certificates issued by Chartered Secretaries Southern Africa and South African Institute of Professional Accountants and for many years served on Committees and the Board of Chartered Secretaries Southern Africa and the International Council of the Institute from 2006 and as a vice president from 2009 to 2011.