RSM South Africa

SARS - Know your rights but also your responsibilities

There has been much ado of late regarding taxpayer refunds that have been delayed by the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Whether this delay has sinister implications is a discussion for another time. Practically the taxpayer must understand what his or her rights are in terms of their refunds.

This goes hand in hand with understanding what SARS is entitled to ask of the taxpayer in return.

A taxpayer refund may be delayed due to the following reasons:

  • The taxpayer’s bank details are not valid – This means that SARS is in essence verifying whether your banking details have changed. SARS are within their full rights to request a verification of your banking details every year if they so choose.
  • The taxpayer is being audited and there is supporting documentation owing by the taxpayer – It is important to keep track of letters issued by SARS via e-filing in this regard. An audit may also occur every year and does not necessarily mean the taxpayer has done anything wrong.
  • The taxpayer has any returns outstanding.
  • The taxpayer has any amount owing to SARS which is not set off against the refund.

SARS may call on documentation in order to finalise the above matters which the taxpayer will be required to provide by law or in order to obtain the refund.

It is the right of the taxpayer however to:

  • Receive a case number as well as a turnaround time for documentation submitted on request.
  • Escalate the matter if it was not dealt with within the specified turnaround time.
  • Lodge a complaint with SARS if SARS has not responded within a reasonable turnaround time in terms of their policies.
  • Approach the Tax Ombud (This is the worst case scenario).

It is important for taxpayers to approach a registered tax practitioner so that the correct documentation may be submitted and correct procedures may be followed to keep the taxpayer fully compliant. This will ensure that taxpayer non-compliance is not the reason for the non-payment of refunds.

Liezl Laughton

Corporate Tax Supervisor, Johannesburg

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