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CHANGES TO THE DISPUTE MANAGEMENT PROCESS

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) recently introduced certain changes and improvements to its current dispute management process.

Any taxpayer who is aggrieved by any assessment may request SARS to provide those reasons for the assessment sufficient to enable the taxpayer to formulate an objection. For the first time, taxpayers will be able to make such a request for reasons for an assessment electronically via eFiling or at any SARS branch. This automated functionality will be available for personal income tax (PIT), corporate income tax (CIT) and value-added tax (VAT). Where a valid request for reasons has been identified by the SARS system, the period that an objection can be lodged will be automatically extended to the period permitted by the Dispute Resolution Rules issued by SARS in terms of section 103 of the Tax Administration Act.[1]

The new dispute management process will also introduce a separate condonation workflow whereby the taxpayer will be allowed to submit a Request for Reasons, Notice of Objection (NOO) or Notice of Appeal (NOA) after the periods prescribed by the Dispute Resolution Rules have lapsed. Previously, the condonation process was included in the actual dispute process. To the extent therefore that a dispute was treated by SARS as invalid (as opposed to not being allowed to proceed as a result of a late submission), taxpayers were confused as to the outcome of the dispute and what the next available step in the dispute process was. The new automated condonation process therefore allows SARS to attend to requests for condonation for the late submission of the relevant notices or requests before attending to the dispute itself. This will ensure that the late submission is aligned with the legislation as it will prevent situations where the dispute is simply classified as invalid merely because the relevant submission is late (quite often automatically).

Taxpayers will also now be able to request SARS to suspend certain payments of VAT pending the outcome of a VAT dispute via eFiling or at a SARS branch similar to the requests for suspension of payments that were already implemented for PIT and CIT in 2015.

eFiling will furthermore be made an entirely guided process to ensure that the dispute is submitted according to legislative requirements and to eliminate any invalid disputes from being submitted to SARS.

The take-away is that SARS regards these changes as part of its ongoing commitment to delivering a better service to taxpayers. The changes to the dispute management process are therefore aimed at aligning the process more closely with the relevant legislation, to remove uncertainties that existed with regards to the dispute process and to make the process easier to follow.

[1]28 of 2011

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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