IN­VES­TI­GA­TIONS

CityPress - - Business - MAYA FISHER-FRENCH per­son­al­fi­nance@city­press.co.za

Amend­ments to the Tax Ad­min­is­tra­tion Act have given the Of­fice of the Tax Ombudsman greater in­de­pen­dence and, im­por­tantly, the abil­ity to ini­ti­ate an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into sys­temic is­sues af­fect­ing tax­pay­ers.

The power to ini­ti­ate an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was a sig­nif­i­cant, and un­ex­pected, change to the amend­ments, which came into ef­fect on Jan­uary 19.

Although the tax om­bud will still need to re­ceive ap­proval from the fi­nance min­is­ter for such in­ves­ti­ga­tions, it is now free to in­ves­ti­gate sys­temic and emerg­ing is­sues re­lated to a ser­vice mat­ter, ap­pli­ca­tion of the pro­vi­sions of the act, as well as pro­ce­dural or ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­vi­sions of the act with­out a for­mal com­plaint be­ing lodged.

This brings the tax om­bud in line with sim­i­lar en­ti­ties in other ju­ris­dic­tions such as Aus­tralia, the US and Canada.

In an in­ter­view with City Press, CEO of the Of­fice of the Tax Ombudsman Ad­vo­cate Eric Mkhawane said that the of­fice was in the process of iden­ti­fy­ing ar­eas of con­cern that it would like to in­ves­ti­gate. One of the ar­eas will most likely be around the de­lays by the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice (Sars) to pay re­funds.

“Although Sars tells us that 90% of re­funds are paid in time, that still means 10% are not and the value of those re­funds can be sub­stan­tial –

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