Tax Ombud’s office resolves its first complaint
The Tax Ombud’s office is up and running and has already resolved its first complaint, the ombud says.
Retired Judge Bernard Ngoepe said this week that the first case involved value-added tax.
The ombud told a function hosted by the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners (Sait) that it is important that the physical separation of his office from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is visible, and for this reason his office and support staff of 41 operate from offices in Hatfield in Pretoria that are separate from those of SARS, even though the Tax Ombud’s staff are seconded from SARS.
The judge told the Sait function that concerns have been raised that his office can only make recommendations to SARS and cannot compel SARS to take action. However, he says you should assume that a responsible institution such as SARS will not ignore a recommendation from an office that has been established by statute and that applied its mind and resources to producing that recommendation.
Ngoepe says he will report directly to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, and that Gordhan is obliged to table the ombud’s report in Parliament.
It is hoped that if there are some “troublesome problems” that, in the opinion of the ombud, require serious attention or have not been addressed adequately by SARS, these will be in the report, and Parliament can raise them with the minister, he says.
Ngoepe also says he will submit reports to the Commissioner of SARS so that the commissioner will know whether his staff are resolving issues.
The Tax Ombud’s jurisdiction extends to service issues only. Ngoepe’s office cannot review legislation or policy. Therefore, it cannot accept a complaint about your liability for tax or the amount of tax due, nor can it review a matter to which you have objected, taken on appeal or taken to the Tax Court.
Before you take a complaint to his office, you should have tried to resolve your complaint with SARS through SARS’s Service Monitoring Office.
◆ You can contact the Tax Ombud’s office as follows: email@example.com, telephone 012 431 9105 or fax 012 452 5013.