The Office of the Tax Ombudsman (OTO) has officially produced South Africa’s first compendium of taxpayers. Serving as a single compilation of the tax rights, entitlements, and obligations of each South African taxpayer.
Table of contents
The aim of this document is to make the duties and rights of both the taxpayers as well as the revenue authority both clear and accessible. Through better understanding, the OTO believes that we can achieve a healthy balance between the powers of the authority, and the rights and obligations of the taxpayer. All with the final goal of creating a just tax administration system.
The ombudsman states, “The purpose of this document is to provide information to taxpayers about their rights, entitlements, and obligations in relation to their tax affairs and engagements with the South African Revenue Services (SARS) and the Office of the Tax Ombud”.
Officials will update the compendium of taxpayers on an annual basis.
Each taxpayer has the right to know how to comply with tax regulations and to ask the authorities about it. Each person may also request any information which relates to their own tax affairs. Plus, anyone has the right to enquire about services rendered by SARS and the OTO.
Each individual has the right to receive friendly and unbiased service from the revenue authorities. As well as insist on clear and understandable communications.
“Pay now argue later principle”
The system is such that if SARS calculates an amount as owing, the taxpayer must pay that amount regardless of if there is a dispute. Once they have paid, the taxpayer may dispute the amount. Then, should the authority determine that the taxpayer overpaid, SARS is obligated to refund the excess.
However, if there is a dispute, the taxpayer is entitled to request a suspension on the obligation to pay until the authority reaches a conclusion. Following this, SARS has a period of ten days in which to respond. And during that time they may not collect.
Any investigation done by a tax authority should be as unintrusive as possible. Plus, SARS and the Tax Ombud may not disclose the personal information of a taxpayer to anyone else. Unless authorised by the taxpayer or permitted by law.
Taxpayers may at any time have a representative with them to assist in any tax dealings with the authority.
Finality of a Matter
In the instance that there is a dispute or investigation, the taxpayer is entitled to insist on the conclusiveness of the matter.
Disputes and Complaints
Any taxpayer is fully entitled to complain or dispute any service provided by a tax authority. The complaint or dispute should be truly and fairly logged without judgment or intimidation.
Obligation to Pay
Every South African citizen has the duty to work to the best of their ability and to pay the taxes imposed by law.
Duty to Register
Each person must register as a taxpayer as and when they are liable to do so.
All citizens must always be honest and accurate in their engagements with tax authorities.
Taxpayers must comply with all prescribed tax processes and timeframes.
Updating of Details
Each taxpayer is responsible for updating SARS of any changes to their registered details or banking particulars within 21 days.
All taxpayers must keep all documents and records in relation to their tax declarations for a period of five years from the date of submission. If a person is not required to submit a return, they are still required to keep all documents and records for five years from the end of the tax period to which those documents and records relate.
Each taxpayer must take responsibility for their tax affairs. The authorities will not absolve them from obligations if they appoint a tax practitioner.