We highlight below some of SARS’ operational and tax administration matters that have been addressed recently
Author | Somaya Khaki, Project Director: Tax (Member Services)
SARS’ use of Adobe Flash
As noted in the February issue of ASA, following the discontinuation of Adobe Flash Player and the subsequent challenges that taxpayers experienced, SARS released its browser as a temporary solution to allow taxpayers to complete and submit the Flash-based forms that have not yet been migrated to HTML5 format.
SARS confirmed on 12 February that a version for Mac users will be made available soon.
SARS also communicated to SAICA that the newly introduced browser is approved software that is being implemented in partnership with Adobe’s service provider partners. SARS reiterated that the security of users’ eFiling experience is paramount to SARS and therefore the SARS browser has been limited to allow access to the SARS websites only − general browsing is not permitted. To enhance security, SARS has suggested that existing security software or antivirus programmes be kept updated by users.
It is important to note that the SARS browser is not a requirement for all forms and activity on eFiling. eFilers will still be able to complete their other interactions with SARS regarding forms and processes that are unrelated to Adobe Flash Player with their browser of choice or via the Mobi-App.
The forms listed below require users to download the interim browser:
|RAV01||Registration, Amendments and Verification Form|
|IT3-01||Financial Certificate Information|
|DTR01||Dividends Tax Transactions Information|
|WTI||Withholding Tax on Interest|
Delays in finalisation of verifications
Members are experiencing delays with respect to finalisation of SARS verifications. At a recent regional SARS meeting, SARS acknowledged that there is a backlog nationally, specifically with respect to personal income tax verifications. To address this backlog, SARS has allocated additional capacity on a national level.
SARS further acknowledged that it was unable to maintain the turnaround times in terms of the service charter until the backlog had been cleared. Following the intervention by SARS head office, we were advised that there has been a significant improvement in finalisation of verifications related to individual taxpayers. Within the last two weeks alone the backlog has been reduced by almost 50% and SARS will aim to ensure that the backlog is cleared and related refunds paid by the end of the financial year, where these are finalised timeously.
This matter and other SARS operational matters have been noted in the feedback summary which may address issues that you are experiencing in relation to your clients.
SARS’ non-compliance with sections 42 and 96 of the TAA
On 9 November 2020, SAICA made a submission to SARS to address SARS’ non-compliance with sections 42 and 96 of the Tax Administration Act 2011 (the TAA), as well as the lack of a legislated/defined process for ‘verifications’. The concerns raised were in respect of non-compliance with the TAA read with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA). We encourage members to read the full submission.
The practical aspects of the non-compliance have been addressed with SARS via SARS/RCB national stakeholder meetings over the last few years and the requirement for a legislated verification process has been addressed as part of Annexure C submissions to National Treasury. Following the submission, SARS initiated a meeting on 6 February to better understand the issue and to provide insights regarding the concerns raised.
Section 42 relates to SARS’ obligation to issue letters of findings on completion of audits allowing taxpayers an opportunity to respond to such findings before an additional assessment is issued. Section 96 deals with SARS’ obligation to issue a notice of assessment − such assessment complying with specific requirements. In other words, in the case of an estimated assessment or ‘an assessment that is not fully based on a return submitted by the taxpayer’ SARS must give the taxpayer ‘a statement of the grounds for the assessment’.
The submission and discussions revolved around the fact that members have experienced cases where SARS has not complied with one or both of the above provisions. Further to this, SARS’ distinction between a ‘formal audit’ and a ‘verification’ was discussed with the need for a process to be defined for verifications to ensure consistency in approach and timelines to finalise.
For more details, members are referred to the feedback summary.
SAICA Member Portal
Should you require assistance with a specific SARS operational matter, please log your query on the SAICA Member Portal under the SARS Operational category. Ensure that you have first used one of the SARS escalation channels and allowed SARS 21 days to resolve the issue prior to logging the query on the system. A SARS case reference number must be disclosed in the description of the issue.
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