The New Tax Dispute Resolution Rules: Better Rights For Taxpayers

Taxpayers have often felt helpless in disputes with SARS when they have been left waiting for responses to queries or objections. Going to court is not an option for most taxpayers but new rules recently gazetted relating to disputes between taxpayers and SARS will give taxpayers hope.
These new rules cover issues such as objections, appeals, the Tax Court and alternative dispute resolution. 

One interesting aspect covered is that SARS have finally accepted electronic communication as a means of submitting documents, objections and notices to SARS. Taxpayers will need to monitor their eFiling profile as SARS can post items on it without notifying the taxpayer. Note here that if you use eFiling to submit your return, you are required to use form N001 for an objection.

Be careful!

If you want to dispute anything with SARS, it is critical that you follow the steps and time frames laid down by tax law. Should you fail to comply, SARS will end the dispute, leaving you liable to pay taxes they have raised. 

The time frames and the process

The new rules allow either party to apply to Tax Court for summary judgment. One of the parties has to be in default in terms of the time frames laid down or in relation to a commitment to provide the other party with documentation. 

To start the process, the “wronged” party gives notice that they intend applying to the Tax Court for summary judgment – this means if, say, SARS has not given a decision on an objection in the required time period, then the Tax Court can set this aside and SARS can proceed no further with the matter.

The other party has fifteen business days to remedy the default, failing which the matter goes to the Tax Court. Should the other party oppose this, it has ten business days to submit an affidavit to the Tax Court.

The Tax Court will convene a hearing and may either issue a summary judgment or give the other party more time to redress the default, failing which the process will be set aside. 

Thus, the taxpayer now has a concrete way of reaching finality in a dispute with SARS.
The information provided herein should not be used or relied on 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 professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.