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Income Tax

Buckling Down on Slow Resolutions

Frustrations continue to mount among taxpayers over the lengthy resolution time for disputes with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). These grievances constitute a significant percentage of the complaints lodged with the Office of the Tax Ombud. The prolonged dispute resolution time can be attributed primarily to SARS’s inadequate capacity to handle income tax disputes, especially appeals.

In response, SARS has recently employed additional personnel as part of a project to address the existing backlog. SARS has stated that its objective is to eliminate the appeals backlog. However, it requires time, as once the old appeals are dealt with, new ones enter the system.

Updated Timelines for Dispute Resolutions

Under the Service Charter, SARS has pledged to adhere to agreed timelines for dispute resolution.

These commitments include:
  • Responding with reasons in 90% of cases within 45 business days from the date the request was received.
  • Deciding on 70% of objections within 60 business days from the date an objection was lodged.
  • Determining the suitability of a case for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in 70% of ADR requests and notifying taxpayers within 30 business days from the date the request was received.
  • Concluding 50% of ADR proceedings within 90 business days from the start of the ADR or within an extended period agreed upon with SARS.

If SARS fails to meet the promised timelines, the Office of the Tax Ombud (OTO) will step in on behalf of the taxpayer without the need for the taxpayer to first attempt to resolve the matter.

Maintaining Proper Communication

Outside the slow reigns of dispute resolution, a recurring theme is the inadequacy of SARS’s communication with taxpayers – a huge obstacle for various aspects of processing. There have been cases where SARS did not acknowledge PAYE deductions, even though taxpayers could demonstrate the deductions on their payslips. This raises concerns since taxpayers, who rely on their employers to deduct and remit these amounts to SARS, are ultimately held responsible for their tax affairs.

Relying on Professionals

While actions are being implemented to improve various SARS processes, and improvement can be seen, there is still room for improvement. With the professional tax practitioners at MMS Group, navigating communication with SARS can be hassle-free. For assistance with your income tax matters, reach out to our team.