On Wednesday the 20th of March, SAICA and SAIT had a meeting with the SARS to discuss operational issues raised by our Western Cape members. The meeting was very interactive and valuable insights were obtained from both the bodies and SARS. The minutes of the meeting are as follow:
Q: What is the turnaround time to get an appointment? The appointment response is 2 working days, but the appointments are booked in advance for two weeks. This is not acceptable to practitioners.
SARS Response: The reason given for the delay is that there is not enough capacity to deal with the amount of applications. VAT applications is still is the big issue, because it takes up almost a whole meeting and there is a lot of paperwork one (practitioner) can’t deal with all the issues in the time provided for in the meeting. SARS has put a dedicated person on VAT applications at the Bellville branch.
The frustration of trying to get appointment and getting told it’s full, SARS will try to improve.
The capacity in the VAT queue will be improved, make sure to state that the meeting will be for VAT.
Q: With the practitioners struggling to get appointments, can SARS go to some practitioners and try and resolve the issues at the practitioners’ office?
SARS response: SARS will look into the matter.
Q: Can we put something on paper to give to institutions, procedures and requirements with regard to appointments? What is available for VAT?
SARS response: Yes SARS will look at putting procedures etc. on paper, SARS responds by saying that there are a lot of practitioners who are doing things in office (SARS office) which could have been done on e-filing or electronically.
2. Contact centre
Q: With regard to the call centre, the call centre can take calls and call out. If staff is not being utilised they will be put on the call centre to handle debt collecting. The problems experienced by practitioners are:
a) SARS calling from a cell phone and the practitioner not being able to hear the operator.
b) As a practitioner who has the power of attorney from one’s client, the practitioner is legally entitled to correspond with SARS on matters of the client. SARS is unwilling to speak to practitioner about their client’s matters.
SARS Response: We will look into the problem and communicate in due course.
Q: There was a concern raised by the practitioners about early evening calls to clients with regard to debt collection. It creates doubt with the client. Clients should be able to confirm that they are speaking with SARS as it could be a scheme. Info should be provided like the case number, name and identification.
SARS response: SARS will only ask for general info; they will give info to verify that they are speaking to the correct person. SARS will not ask you to provide bank details over the phone.SARS will look into creative ways of verifying the details over the phone.
Q: Practitioners still have a problem with the fact that they get different answers from different agents, from the call centre, for the same question. SARS should get their message across.Practitioners still have a problem with the fact that they get different answers from different agents, from the call centre, for the same question. SARS should get their message across.
SARS response: There is a pool of cases, if the person can’t talk and SARS is asked to phone back, the case gets put back in the pool and therefore when the case comes up again it is more than likely that a practitioner will speak with a different agent.
Q: Is person in the contact centre on the same level as people on branch level?
SARS response: Yes, all have to be at a certain skill level, but they may also be skilled in different things, for example VAT or Income Tax. Therefore we try to allocate calls to operators who are skilled to handle certain queries.
Q: The practitioners requested SARS to send out documentation which explains the following:
a) What issues can and must be dealt with at a SARS office.
b) What issues can be handled through the Call Centre.
c) What alternative routes members can follow to escalate issues.
SARS response: We will look into the matter and issue relevant documentation.
3. PCC mailbox from SARS
Q: The issue is the non-reply via e-mail address (PCC mailbox from SARS) provided specifically for Tax Practitioners to enquire or follow up on an issue or case. Why is there no feedback?
SARS response: The reason is that the matter could have been escalated, and that the PCC mailbox is not designed for supporting documents.
4. Incorrect IRP 5 information
Q: With regard to IRP 5 query where only selective info was populated onto the IT 34. The issue is that only the income was taken into account on the IRP 5 and not the deductions. This resulted in double taxation and SARS is unwilling to revise the assessment.
SARS response: There is 30 days to object and appeal; if this is not done within the time frame it will depend on the Commissioner’s discretion to rectify the problem. SARS does not have unlimited power. If there was non-disclosure SARS may go back, and in the case of full disclosure SARS is limited to going back 3 years.
5. Documentary proof
Q: SARS appear to keep changing the requirements for submissions and registrations but it does not update its website first – Internal procedures and forms change without notification to users. You can go to SARS with something printed off the website that day and it won’t be accepted even if you prove to them what is currently on the website. They sometimes can’t accept it because they know that when it moves to the people handling the paperwork that they will reject it. Clarity and certainty on what exactly SARS requires as documentary proof (for instance, a VAT registration application) would be most helpful.
·Changes of requirements by SARS are supposed to be seamless.
·A form changes if policy changes.
·Once approved, internal operating procedure changes.
·Once approved, external operating procedure will be put on website.
·SARS will take it up with people who run the system.
·The old rules are kept online as it might be needed in case of a dispute.
6. Rejection of objections
Q: SARS regularly will send a letter that an objection has been rejected due to let’s say a GPA not attached. The tax practitioner corrects the situation and the case gets rejected again for the same problem. The tax practitioner then calls SARS and they tell him/her that it is still in progress on their system. Later you see the objection come through and it leaves you wondering what the letter was all about in the first place.
SARS response: The period, in which the letters went out, happened automatically and should not have happened. There was a problem and the correct procedure will be that the verifiers will first verify it and then the letter may be sent out.
7. Dividends tax
Q: Concern was raised by the practitioners with regard to Dividends Tax. They received mixed information and there is a general problem with Easyfile.
SARS response: There are two options or routes to follow, i.e. e-filing or going through the branch. There is a specific channel which can be contacted with regards to Dividends tax problems.
Workshops will be held for Easyfile in due course.
General statements made by SARS
Upcoming Modernisation initiatives
Tax Clearance Certificates
·TCC’s will not be in paper format anymore; they will be electronic and only be accessible by using a pin code. The document will be “real time”, in other words once the pin code is entered the person will immediately know if the taxpayer is “clean”.
·Service managers will be able to look back further.
·Because it is real time, there will be an auto health check.
·Robot report will be given, if its green the taxpayer is clean.
·Would be useful to check hygiene of client.
·Should reduce need to come into SARS office.
·Will interact with arrangement of payments.
·This system will enable a taxpayer to register for all tax types on one single registration number. One will be able to look at every tax type a taxpayer is registered for in a single view. There will thus be a lot less filling in of forms.
·It will be a dynamic form.
·There are still some concerns with regard to VAT, general info will be pulled through from the dynamic form, but specific info will have to be filled in on one VAT registration form.
·Will be able to update bank and personal details for all tax types once.
New IT 14 form
·Will be required to submit financial statements beforehand.
·Companies will be classified, for example: Private Company, Small Business Corporation etc.
·Lack of feedback.
·Can register on website to receive any updates with regard to important changes.
·SARS can improve with regard to general communication with practitioners.
With regard to power of attorney, power of attorney document must be attached to ADR forms and a certified copy will be accepted.
Power of attorney
SARS stated that incomplete documents cause problems. If an individual is coming to a SARS on behalf of a client an original ID is needed. If it is a practitioner, a letter of authority is needed.
Visits by SARS to practices
SARS stresses that it is only a service meeting, not an audit. Things they look for on visit are:
a) Look into issues the practice has with SARS.
b) Examples of issues that got stuck in SARS’s system.
c) Objections raised.
d) Is the practice involved in all tax types?
e) Explain the different channels that are available, for example e-filing, PCC mailbox etc.
Feedback given by SARS on the visits is:
a) Using less paper minimizes the issues that the practice has with SARS. For instance using the PCC mailbox, bad registrations, bank details change and supporting documents.
b) Channels are not being utilised such as the PCC mailbox. There have so far been no lost documents after it has been submitted into that mailbox. Make sure the heading is very clear on top of the document, helps sending it to the correct department.
c) With regard to the PCC mailbox, one can’t file returns or supporting documents in the mailbox because it was not designed for that.
d) Some practices are reluctant to phone the call centre. They are unaware that using this channel will make it easier to escalate issues.