Notification of commencement of audit

By Yashika Govind, Senior Associate and Nirvasha Singh, Partner at Webber Wentzel. The obligation of SARS to collect tax and taxpayers’ rights are often at odds with each other. In an attempt to address this issue, the Budget 2018 (Budget) proposes to reconcile the taxpayers’ constitutional rights with SARS’ constitutional obligations by including a provision in the Tax Administration Act 28 of 2011 (TAA) stipulating that SARS must inform the taxpayer at commencement of the audit when the information submitted in a tax return will be audited. The provision is intended to cover desk audits which involve inspection or enquiries, without necessarily meeting with the taxpayer or third parties in person.

Status of SARS interpretation notes

Ben Strauss (Director at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr). From time to time, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) issues interpretation notes. According to the SARS website (www.sars.gov.za), interpretation notes are intended to provide guidelines to stakeholders (both internal and external) on the interpretation and application of the provisions of the legislation administered by the Commissioner.

Procedure is everything: A win for the taxpayer and the importance of the right to just administrative action

Author: Louis Botha (Associate at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr). In recent times, taxpayers have often been unsuccessful in their disputes with the South African Revenue Service (SARS), especially where the dispute involved the interpretation or application of the substantive provisions of tax legislation. However, where disputes have involved compliance with the procedural requirements of tax legislation, taxpayers have generally had greater success. The judgment in Mr A v The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (Case No. IT13726) (as yet unreported), falls into the second category and is the subject of this article.

Did the punishment fit the crime? The Tax Court reduces an understatement penalty imposed by SARS

Author: Louis Botha (Associate at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr). The imposition of understatement penalties in terms of Chapter 16 of the Tax Administration Act, No 28 of 2011 (TA Act) and the factors to consider when imposing such a penalty: An issue that our courts have not dealt with much. In this regard, the judgment of the Tax Court in XYZ CC v The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (Case No. 14055) (as yet unreported), handed down on 20 November 2017, sets out some helpful principles.

A win against SARS: late delivery of SARSs rule 31 Statement

Author: Mareli Treurnicht (Director at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr). On 17 October 2017 the Tax Court (Western Cape Division: Cape Town) delivered judgment in the matter between S Company v The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) under case number IT0122/2017. The judgment was handed down by Judge Cloete. This judgment is of great interest to any taxpayers currently involved in prolonged disputes with SARS, in particular where there are delays on the part of SARS.

No trade, no deduction a judgment about s11(a) of the Income Tax Act

Author: Louis Botha Tax (Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr). On 20 April 2017, the Tax Court handed down its decision in X Group (Pty) Ltd v The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (Case No: 13671) (as yet unreported). The case dealt with an amount of R90 million that X Group (Pty) Ltd (Taxpayer) had claimed as an expense or loss during the 2007 year of assessment, which deduction was disallowed by the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

SARS says pay up, but the court says no: An important case on taxpayers rights

Author: Louis Botha. In Nondabula v Commissioner: SARS and Another (4062/2016) [2017] ZAECMHC 21 (27 June 2017), heard by the Mthatha High Court, Nondabula (Taxpayer), brought an application to interdict the South African Revenue Service (SARS) from invoking the provisions of s179 of the Tax Administration Act, No 28 of 2011 (TAA) pending the final determination of the Taxpayers objection to an additional assessment of his income tax. Furthermore, the Taxpayer sought an order that SARS withdraw its third party notice, in terms of which SARS instructed Absa to withhold and pay over monies held in the Taxpayers bank account.

The lawfulness of retrospective amendments in tax law

Author: Beric Croome. On 29 May 2017, Judge Fabricius delivered judgment in the Gauteng High Court in the case of Pienaar Brothers (Pty) Ltd vs Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service and the Minister of Finance, in a case dealing with the Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2007 (the Amending Act) which inserted section 44(9A) into the Income Tax Act, 1962 (the Act). The taxpayer sought an order declaring that section 34(2) of the Amending Act is inconsistent with the Constitution, and invalid to the extent that it provides that section 44 (9A) of the Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on 21 February 2007 and to be applicable to any reduction or redemption of the share capital or share premium of a resultant in company, including the acquisition by that company of its shares in terms of section 85 of the Companies Act, on or after Read More …

Ubi ius, ubi remedium: Proposed amendments to the Tax Administration Act

Author: Louis Botha (Associate at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr). Currently, in terms of section 9 of the Tax Administration Act, No 28 of 2011 (TAA) a decision made by a South African Revenue Services (SARS) official and a notice to a specific person issued by SARS, excluding a decision given effect to in an assessment or notice of assessment is regarded as made by a SARS official, authorised to do so or duly issued by SARS, until proven to the contrary. Furthermore, s9 makes provision for such a decision to be withdrawn or amended by the SARS official, a SARS official to whom the SARS official reports or a senior SARS official, at the request of the relevant person.  

The shoe is on the other foot: The High Court orders SARS to discover documents in the context of a review application

Authors: Louis Botha and Nandipha Mzizi(Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr). It seldom happens that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is compelled to provide documents to a taxpayer, while SARS is conducting an audit. In Carte Blanche Marketing CC and Others v Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (26244/2015) [2017] ZAGPPHC 253 (26 May 2017), the Gauteng Division of the High Court, Pretoria had to decide whether SARS should be compelled to produce certain documents requested by the applicants (Taxpayers) in the context of a review application brought by the Taxpayers. The main proceedings in this matter involve a review application which the Taxpayers brought against SARS seeking to set aside the decision of SARS to audit them in terms of s40 of the Tax Administration Act, No 28 of 2011 (TAA).