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  • Tax Dispute Resolution: The Law is the law

Tax Dispute Resolution: The Law is the law

13 October 2020

By Seelan Muthayan, Head of VAT, BDO in SA |

Taxpayers are often faced with the daunting task of objecting to assessments raised by SARS. This exercise is further exacerbated by SARS’ delaying in dealing with the objection lodged within the time frames provided for by the rules promulgated in terms of the Tax Administration Act.

It is clear that the prescribed timelines to which Taxpayers are held do not apply to SARS.

VAT or Income Tax refunds are trapped for a significant period (often for months) pending the outcome of the objections impacting severely on the cash flow of the Taxpayers. Taxpayers often try to get the matter expedited by calling the SARS Call Centre, lodging complaints with the SARS CMO and last but not least through the Office of the Tax Ombud, but to no avail.

This experience is not limited to the objections lodged but may also occur in the subsequent appeal process. Requests for ADR meetings provided for in the rules often fall on deaf ears with SARS not considering the requests within the prescribed timelines.

Furthermore, appeals are not also dealt with within the prescribed timelines.

One of the fundamental rights embodied in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution is the right to administrative Justice.

The Taxpayer may take SARS’ failure to attend to these matters on review to the High Court in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. This is often a very expensive exercise.

The Taxpayer does have an alternative remedy. The Tax Administration Act, specifically the rules promulgated in terms of section 103 (ADR rules) take into account the constitutional rights of Taxpayers. The ADR rules provides certain remedies which can assist the Taxpayer getting the matter resolved or expedited and which is much more cost effective than a High Court review application.

Should you require assistance in this regard, please contact BDO Tax Services.

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