New tax dispute resolution rules come into effect immediately

New tax dispute resolution rules provide for, amongst others, 80 days to submit an objection and more independence of an ADR facilitator. On 10 March 2023, the Minister of Finance published new dispute resolution rules in the Government Gazette in terms of the Tax Administration Act (TAA). These rules describe the procedures for objections and appeals, for the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism and for the conduct and hearing of appeals before a Tax Board or Tax Court.

Foreign employers will be required to register with SARS

National Treasury proposed in the February 2023 Budget that it intends to align the obligations on South African and foreign employers, which creates certain practical issues   The global trend of remote working, which has surged since the Covid-19 lockdowns, allows employers at one end of the world to employ South Africans (SA) whom they may never have met face-to-face.   These arrangements benefit both employers (because they may be able to employ highly skilled workers more cheaply than in their own countries) and employees (who may broaden their opportunities to earn income).

Skirting the Tax Court is not a quick-fix solution to a tax dispute

The road to finalising a dispute against an additional assessment or a SARS decision can be a “protracted slog” to the Tax Court. Recent case law suggests that relief in the High Court is only available in exceptional circumstances. The TAA process Chapter 9 of the Tax Administration Act (TAA) and the dispute resolution rules (Rules) provide for aggrieved taxpayers to dispute assessments and SARS decisions using the objection and appeal procedures.

SARS additional disclosure requirements for tax clearance in respect of transferring funds abroad

SARS has introduced an enhanced compliance system change in relation to the current tax clearance status (TCS) required for the transfer of funds by a taxpayer intending to make use of their foreign investment allowance (FIA) of up to R10 million per calendar year. It has been noted the effective date of this change is24 April 2023. The enhanced changes to the TCS system require additional information on the approval of an International Transfer (AIT) Application, to aid SARS in ensuring that all required tax payable has been duly reported by the taxpayer. It is further noted that this would only apply for amounts in excess of R1 million. No TCS is required for transfers up to R1million per calendar year.

What to do if you receive income from two sources?

Taxpayers who receive income from more than one source of employment are reminded that the employees tax (PAYE) deducted by the respective employers may not be enough to cover their final tax liability on assessment. The reason for this is the manner in which a taxpayers tax liability is calculated on assessment. The South African tax system is based on the principle of adding together all sources of income of a taxpayer into a single sum, and applying a progressive tax rate table to determine the final tax liability of the taxpayer on assessment. A progressive tax rate system means that the more income is earned, the higher is the marginal tax rate and more tax is paid on assessment.

Guidelines for SARS Third Party Appointments (AA88)

What is it? The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has the power to appoint any person (referred to as an agent) to pay any outstanding tax, which is due by a taxpayer, out of any money that is held on behalf of the taxpayer. More information: If a taxpayer has outstanding tax debts (this includes penalties), the Tax Administration Act empowers the Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to appoint a third party to recover money held by third parties on behalf of the taxpayer, or owed by the third party to the taxpayer. Third parties could be an employer or a bank, etc.

Avoid future headaches: raising all grounds of objection is critical in SARS tax disputes

In recent years, SARS has become increasingly litigious, resulting in disputes often ending up in the Tax Court or the High Court. Such a dispute will generally arise when a taxpayer disagrees with an assessment raised by SARS. An aspect of the dispute process that can have dire consequences if overlooked is that a taxpayer must canvas all relevant grounds of objection from the outset, as these form the basis of any future litigation. A case in point isCommissioner for the South African Revenue Service v Airports Company for South Africa.In this case, SARS raised an additional assessment for the taxpayers 2011 year of assessment, disallowing deductions of Corporate Social Investment (CSI) expenditure and allowances in terms of section 13quinand 12F of the Income Tax Act,1962 (the ITA). The taxpayer only objected to the disallowance of the CSI expenditure. No objection was lodged to section 13quin and section 12F allowances Read More …

SCA rules on the imposition of USP where a taxpayer relied on an opinion

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) may impose penalties on taxpayers who make errors in their tax returns, but relief is available under certain circumstances. Understatement penalties (USPs) are levied in terms of section 222(1) of the Tax Administration Act, 2011 (TAA) and provide that in the event of an understatement by a taxpayer, the taxpayer must, in addition to the tax payable, pay a USP, unless it is the consequence of a bona fideinadvertent error. A provision in theTAAfurther states that SARS must remit a penalty imposed for a substantial understatement if it is satisfied that: the taxpayer was in possession of an opinion by an independent registered tax practitioner that was issued by no later than the date the relevant return was due; the opinion was based upon full disclosure of the specific facts and circumstances of the arrangement; and the opinion confirmed that the taxpayers position is Read More …

Another reminder that SARS bears the onus of proving understatement penalties

In the matter ofLance Dickson Construction CC v Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service, the High Court set aside the order of the Tax Court in favour of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and upheld an appeal by Lance Dickson Construction CC (Taxpayer) with costs. The Taxpayer, in its tax return for the 2017 year of assessment, did not declare any proceeds from the disposal of certain property to a related entity, Kwali Mark Construction CC (KMC), as it believed and as stated in the agreement of sale between the Taxpayer and KMC, that capital gains tax (CGT) would be paid by the Taxpayer when the property was on-sold by KMC to an unrelated third-party and the relevant proceeds were received by the Taxpayer. Because these conditions were not fulfilled in the 2017 year of assessment, the Taxpayer did not declare proceeds on the disposal of the property Read More …

Time bars taxpayers from correcting readily apparent undisputed errors

There are provisions within the Tax Administration Act, 2011 (the TAA) that allow taxpayers to request assessment corrections without having to rely on the often protracted dispute resolution procedures provided for in the TAA, read together with the Tax Court Rules. In particular, section 93 of the TAA deals with Reduced Assessments and provides (with our emphasis) as follows: (1)SARS may make a reduced assessment if (a) the taxpayer successfully disputed the assessment under Chapter 9; (b) necessary to give effect to a settlement under Part F of Chapter 9; (c) necessary to give effect to a judgment pursuant to an appeal under Part E of Chapter 9 and there is no right of further appeal; (d)SARS is satisfied that there is a readily apparent undisputed error in the assessment by (i) SARS; or (ii)the taxpayer in a return; (e) a senior SARS official is satisfied that an assessment was Read More …