Five points to consider when SARS owes you a refund

Authors: Andries Myburgh AND Simon WeberIts been a tough year. For taxpayers expecting long-outstanding refunds from the South African Revenue Service (SARS), even moreso. Earlier this year, SARS relished the fact that it had paid ZAR2.4 billion in refunds to taxpayers. It acknowledged that these refunds were a major cash injection into the economy at a very critical period. But SARS has generally been slow to refund amounts of excess payments due to taxpayers. The Tax Ombud, for instance, reported that in the 2018/2019 financial year, 24.43% of all complaints received by its office had related to delayed refunds the second highest number of complaints.

SARS decision to audit: Can it be taken on review?

Author: Louise Kotze. Administrative action (being the exercise of public powers and the performance of public functions by organs of state) may be taken on review by members of the public that have been adversely affected by a decision that is taken by any public authority. In the recent judgment of Cart Blanche Marketing CC and others v CSARS (26244/15) [2020] ZAGPJHC (31 August 2020), the High Court of South Africa had to determine whether the decision taken by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to audit a taxpayer constituted administrative action and whether the said decision was capable of being reviewed under South African administrative law.

The failure by a taxpayer to object to the imposition of interest may prove fatal

Author: Louise Kotze. In the judgment of CSARS v The Executor of the Estate Late Lot Maduke Ndlovu (A395/2016) [2020] ZAGPPHC (12 October 2020), the High Court of South Africa had to determine whether the Tax Court had erred in its findings that, amongst others, the taxpayer should be entitled to raise a new ground of objection during the appeal when such ground had not been raised by the taxpayer in his objection. Facts The late taxpayer, the executor of whose estate was the respondent in this matter, was granted options to acquire shares in his employer, which options were exercised by him during his tenure of employment.

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.

Deductions available for commission earners

Author: Joon Chong, a Tax Partner a Webber Wentzel. Commission earners could make an argument to SARS that they should be allowed to deduct their normal range of business expenses, even if commission is no longer more than 50% of their total remuneration under the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. Who is a commission earner? Commission earners who earn more than 50% of their total remuneration as commission income are not limited in the type of business expenses they can claim, as long as these are incurred in the production of their income and are not capital or personal in nature.

Tax treatment of losses incurred during lockdown

Authors: Aubrey Mazibuko, Emil Brincker and Louis Botha. There is little doubt that the national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 health crisis has had a negative financial impact on individuals and business alike. In our Tax & Exchange Control Alert of 28 May 2020, we discussed some of the practical day-to-day tax consequences that the lockdown may have on businesses. In this alert we take a look at the effect that the national lockdown may have on expenditure or losses incurred by individuals and businesses. We also the look at the tax consequences that may arise as a result of employers providing their employees with personal protective equipment. To this end we will consider two scenarios.

Estimating the tax effects of the sale of a business in the hands of a seller

Author: Craig Miller from Webber Wentzel. Tax practitioners are often asked to calculate the indicative effects of the prospective sale of a business (assuming no roll-over relief applies) for the seller. Invariably, the tax practitioner will be informed by the private equity or corporate finance practitioner that enterprise value (EV) is the estimated fair value of the operations of the business. However, this may give rise to a misunderstanding. A tax practitioner is likely to be confused by reference to the “business” (a term only appearing three times in the Income Tax Act) and will not always understand how this value is calculated.

The end of NRV for closing stock (or not?)

Author: Joon Chong, a Partner at Webber Wentzel. The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has for the second time in CSARS v Atlas Copco South Africa (Pty) Ltd, confirmed that the net realisable value (NRV) method is not a suitable method to value closing stock for income tax purposes. The SCA referred with approval to its earlier decision of CSARS v Volkswagen South Africa (Pty) Ltd and held that the NRV method is forward looking, taking into account estimated costs which would still need to be incurred before the stock is sold. The Income Tax Act 58 of 1962 (Act), and calculation of taxable income, is backward looking. The reduction from the cost price of the closing stock should only be allowed in two circumstances: (i) when an event that caused the value of the trading stock to diminish occurred in the tax year; and (ii) when the taxpayer knows Read More …