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Tax Appeal Tribunal ruling: Commissioner Generals discretion must be exercised judiciously

Authors: Celia Becker and Phillip Karugaba. The recent ruling of the Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT) in the case of Century Bottling Company v Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), has brought the discretion of the Commissioner General of the URA sharply in focus. It is absolutely necessary and indeed important that in the exercise of their functions, public authorities exercise discretion. It is equally important that such discretion is properly exercised taking into account only the relevant considerations and for the proper reasons. The citizen has recourse to court to check the excesses of executive discretion. A public official is therefore not like the cultural leader kamala byona (he who finishes all matters). The formers discretion is very much controlled by law and by the courts.

Inextricably linked contracts? The Constitutional Court has the final say regarding section 24C of the Income Tax Act

Author: Aubrey Mazibuko and Louis Botha. On 21 July 2020, the Constitutional Court (CC) handed down judgment in Big G Restaurants (Pty) Ltd v Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service [2020] ZACC 16, which concerned section 24C of the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962 (Act). At issue before the CC was whether future expenditure incurred in terms of a franchise agreement was deductible against income derived by the taxpayer, Big G Restaurants (Pty) Ltd (Big G) from operating its franchise business.

High Court sets aside notice by SARS to debit a taxpayers bank account

Authors: Heinrich Louw and Ndzalama Dumisa. In the recent case of SIP Project Managers (Pty) Ltd v The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (Case Number 11521/2020) (as yet unreported), the High Court set aside a notice by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to a bank to debit a taxpayers bank account in terms of section 179 of the Tax Administration Act 28 of 2011 (TAA), and ordered SARS to repay the amount to the taxpayer.

Who is liable when a payment is made in terms of an invoice that has been intercepted and altered?

Author: Roxanne Webster and Merrick Steenkamp. Gone are the days of receiving physical invoices. Most, if not all, invoices are now sent electronically. While this may be faster and seemingly more secure, there are still some risks involved. What happens if either the creditors or the debtors email accounts are hacked? What if the banking details on the invoice are changed without either partys knowledge and payment is made? Who is liable in such a scenario?

Legal professional privilege protection available to taxpayers too

Authors: Emil Brincker and Louise Kotze. In a litigious context, the doctrine of legal professional privilege provides that communications between an attorney and a client are protected from disclosure in litigious proceedings. The protection afforded to a litigant in terms of this doctrine is aimed at encouraging and protecting the full and honest disclosure of information by clients to their legal advisors when seeking legal advice, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the South African adversarial system of litigation.

A creature of statute: A decision about the Tax Courts power to increase understatement penalties

Authors: Louise Kotze and Louis Botha. In the recent judgment of Purlish Holdings (Proprietary) Limited v The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (76/18) [2019] ZASCA 04, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) had to pronounce on the South African Revenue Services (SARS) entitlement to impose understatement penalties on Purlish Holdings (Proprietary) Limited (Taxpayer) and the quantum thereof.

SARS prescription only starts once tax return has been submitted

Author: Eric Madumo, a Candidate Attorney and Joon Chong, a Partner at Webber Wentzel. In the recent case of CSARS v Char Trade, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) that prescription begins to run against CSARS when a return for secondary tax on companies (STC) is submitted to SARS by a taxpayer. In the Char Trade case, a return for STC had not been submitted by the taxpayer. Due to this, prescription had not begun to run against CSARS. The result of this is that CSARS was able to make an assessment in 2012 of the taxpayer’s liability amounting to ZAR 1,812,609 for the 2007 cycle.

Urgent reinstatement of tax compliance status granted

Author: Joon Chong, Tax Partner at Webber Wentzel. For certain taxpayers, a tax clearance certificate is of utmost importance in ensuring that it is able to receive payment and to tender for new services. In the recent Gauteng High Court decision (Red Ant Security Relocation and Eviction Services (Pty) Ltd v CSARS (2999/18)), the taxpayer applied for urgent interdictory relief for reinstatement of its tax compliance status in order to be able to generate a tax clearance certificate pending determination of review proceedings which it had instituted against CSARS.

The capital v revenue question in the context of government grants: The SCA decides in favour of the motor manufacturing industry

Author: Louis Botha and Louise Kotze. In the recent case of Volkswagen South Africa (Pty) Ltd v Commissioner for South African Revenue Service 80 SATC 179, the age-old question of whether a receipt is capital or revenue in nature was addressed by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), in the context of government grants paid to motor vehicle manufacturers.