Appointment of Tax Ombudsman in South Africa.

The Tax Administration Act became effective on the 1st of October 2012.
Included in this Act is the appointment of a “Tax Ombudsman”.

What is the purpose of the Tax Ombudsman?
The Tax Ombudsman is appointed to protect taxpayer's rights by reviewing and addressing any complaints made by a taxpayer. The purpose of the Ombudsman is therefore to provide an objective overview on SARS' procedures of application of the Tax Act. The Ombudsman must also identify and review systemic issues relating to service, procedure or administration that impact negatively on taxpayers.

After all other internal SARS avenues has been explored, the ombudsman’s office is intended to be an easy and affordable resolution when a taxpayer still feels it is a legitimate complaint. Only when a matter may take too long to be resolved or the taxpayer will suffer hardship, can the Tax Ombudsman decide to investigate a taxpayer’s complaint before all channels have been used.   

Decisions reached by the office of the Tax Ombudsman however, are not binding on either SARS or the taxpayer.

The Tax Ombudsman is required to report quarterly to the Commissioner and annually to the Minister. The reports must contain the most serious issues encountered by taxpayers and the systemic issues identified together with an inventory of how the issues have been resolved or not resolved. The annual report to the Minister must be tabled in the National Assembly.

Tax Ombudsman’s limitations
The Tax Ombudsman has no authority to review legislation, tax policy, generally SARS practices or SARS policies nor matters subject to objection and appeal except to the extent they relate to service, procedure or administration. There may be no reviews pending matters or decisions of the tax court.

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