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.

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.

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.

Tax disputes in the time of eFiling “Late” objections are not always late

Author: Esther van Schalkwyk , Tax Manager at BDO. While eFiling has played a crucial role in managing ones tax affairs remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, there are some discrepancies in the way SARS is handling disputes to tax assessments. In some instances, taxpayers whose objections are not late are prompted on eFiling to motivate why their late objection should be condoned. Whats more worrying is that we have seen such objections being disallowed for being late (despite a senior SARS official presumably having applied his/her mind). Such unlawful disallowances by SARS seem to occur mainly where taxpayers have exercised their right to request reasons for the assessment before objecting.

Fora(ging) for tax relief a judgment about reviewing a SARS assessment or decision

Authors: Jessica Osmond and Louis Botha. In terms of South African tax law, where a taxpayer wishes to object or appeal against an assessment issued by or decision made by the South African Revenue Service (SARS), it must do so in the manner prescribed in the Tax Administration Act, No 28 of 2011 (TAA). Where a dispute is not resolved pursuant to an objection lodged by a taxpayer, the taxpayer can appeal the decision to the Tax Court.

Its just a question of time

The concept of reasonable period within the ambit of the tax legislation seems to be topical one day and then the next loses impetus for whatever reason without ever settling the issue. This question of time is exceptionally important and relevant for the sections in the tax legislation which deal with the situation where SARS has requested a taxpayer to render to it relevant material as part of SARS powers of information gathering.

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.