Many members are unaware of the work SAICA is doing in the area of tax and the resources that are available. This article explains the role and function of SAICA's National Tax Committee and provides guidelines on how practitioners and taxpayers should deal with tax queries and problems with SARS.
Role and function of the National Tax Committee
The Terms of Reference of the National Tax Committee (the Committee) states that the purpose of the Committee is to be the most influential Committee on decisions made by stakeholders in South African tax matters, particularly in respect of decisions made by National Treasury, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and Parliament, with a view to improving outcomes for the South African public, both individual and businesses, and our members, both practising and non-practising.
The primary function is therefore to influence decisions on tax matters that are taken by National Treasury, SARS and Parliament. To this end, the Committee reviews all draft legislation and provides comment and recommendations thereon to SARS, National Treasury and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance. It also reviews and provides comment to SARS on draft documents such as Guides and Interpretation Notes and also on other tax matters that the Committee considers require attention.
In addition, the Committee identifies problems in the tax legislation and policy and makes recommendations to SARS and/or National Treasury. Where necessary, the Committee establishes task teams to focus on specific aspects of tax legislation or policy and formulate recommendations. The following task teams are currently operating:
The Committee interacts with SARS to achieve improved service levels and assist taxpayers in meeting their tax compliance obligations. To facilitate this process, the Committee has appointed an Operations task team (which also includes representatives from SAICA's National Small Practices Committee) which meets with SARS Head Office on a quarterly basis to address operational problems. This interaction is in terms of a structured stakeholder interaction plan, which is available here... In terms of this plan, similar operational meetings are held throughout the country on a regular basis.
The Committee also meets with senior SARS management in the Enforcement and Law Administration areas to address problems and, in the latter case, deficiencies in the legislation and/or the application thereof.
Each SAICA region has a regional tax committee which appoints a representative to serve on the National Tax Committee. The regional representative communicates regional tax matters to the National Tax Committee, including problems with SARS that have been raised by members in the region and have not been resolved with SARS at a regional level. Problems raised at regional levels that cannot be resolved at that level, or which occur in more than one region, will be dealt with at the SARS Head Office Operations task team meetings.
The members of the National Committee comprise practitioners (small, medium and large), members in business, an academic and those in the public sector and/or in tax practice outside public practice, to ensure that all SAICA constituencies are represented.
How to deal with tax queries and problems with SARS
SAICA provides technical assistance to members by answering tax queries, usually within one business day, at no charge. Queries on any tax matter may be sent to email@example.com.
Resolving operational problems
SAICA will assist members in resolving operational problems with SARS. It is essential, to maintain accountability within SARS, that members use the normal SARS channels to deal with problems and refer matters to SAICA only if the normal channels do not achieve the desired result. SARS' method of operating has fundamentally changed over the last few years and the way in which taxpayers and practitioners interact with SARS has had to adapt accordingly. The following process should enable taxpayers and practitioners to solve operational problems as efficiently as possible: