• Which key questions should you ask a tax practitioner before hiring them to do your taxes?
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Which key questions should you ask a tax practitioner before hiring them to do your taxes?

01 September 2020

Tumi Malthare & Antoinette Mavabaza |

First and foremost, enquire whether the person is a registered tax practitioner both with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and with a recognised controlling body, such as the South African Institute of Tax Professionals (SAIT)

If yes, go ahead and exchange pleasantries!

Understand the range of services which the tax practitioner offers, and which are relevant to your personal situation, what is needed for you to make full and complete disclosure of your taxes. What is the tax practitioner’s reputation in the market, the depth of resources and the cost for such services, you can then relax in the knowledge of having reputable value-for-money service continuity?

Ask about the professional values the tax practitioner subscribes to, whether these align to your values. Remember that the professional relationship you build with your tax practitioner should be based on mutual respect, honesty, integrity.

It is also important to know what is expected from you as client and taxpayer, as an example what tax information is required and by when, what is your responsibility towards SARS.

Formalising these expectations makes you and the tax practitioner accountable to each other and leaves little room for unpleasant and unwanted surprises!

 

What are the pros and cons of having a professional do your taxes for you? 

Quality, quality, quality!

As a member of a recognised controlling body a tax practitioner subscribes to a code of conduct which requires that he or she stays up to date with tax laws as well as with SARS policy and procedures and ensures a high-level of skill technically and practically.

This skill set will mitigate the risk of poor tax advice and disclosure errors on your tax returns, ultimately saving you time and money by submitting your returns on time and with accurate information.

Having to deal with SARS enquiries and audits, which are becoming more and more common, no layman should venture this alone as a simple misstatement or incorrect interpretation in reply could unwittingly lead to further investigation or even monetary penalties.

Also having a tax practitioner is the easier way to deal with SARS as there is direct communication channel available whether by email or appointment at a SARS branch office.

A tax practitioner can also be held accountable by you, by SARS and by the recognised controlling body where his or her work performance does not meet the required standards, and disciplinary action can be taken against such tax practitioner.

In truth however appointing a tax practitioner to assist you with meeting your tax obligations allow you the well-deserved time to focus on your interests and your pleasures, not to be bothered with demystifying personal tax!

With this said we can’t think of any negative in appointing a tax practitioner!

 

Who should consider hiring a tax practitioner and who should not be concerned about this? For example, a certain income bracket, or a contractor rather than an employee? 

We don’t think that hiring a tax practitioner should be confined to any income bracket or level of complexity of one’s taxes. Any person wanting to ensure that he or she is compliant with his or her tax obligations, wanting to mitigate the risks faced due to ever changing and complex tax laws and wanting certainty that all is in order with the ‘taxman’ should rely on the services of a registered tax practitioner.

This is evident by the number of enquiries we have received in the last few days following SARS’s issue of the 2020 auto-assessments, the confusion and the uncertainty amongst taxpayers caused by this especially with many auto-assessments being incorrect.

 

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