Tax Om­bud’s of­fice re­solves its first com­plaint

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER - LAURA DU PREEZ

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: of­fice@tax­om­bud.gov.za, tele­phone 012 431 9105 or fax 012 452 5013.

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