Johannesburg - Not all tax practitioners are lax, incompetent, and non-compliant, the SA Institute of Professional Accountants (Saipa) said on Tuesday.
It was responding to comments made by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan during his 2012 budget speech last week.
"Analysis of compliance among the country's 3 000 tax
advisers shows practitioners owe over R260m in outstanding taxes
and have more than 18 000 income tax returns outstanding in their
personal capacity," said Gordhan.
"If that is their attitude to their own tax compliance,
one shudders to think what advice they are giving to their clients," he
Saipa spokesperson Ettiene Retief said the comment made several assumptions about tax practitioners.
"One has to distinguish between those tax practitioners
who are members of professional bodies like Saipa, and those who are
not," he said.
Tax practitioners who belong to a professional body
have to meet certain educational standards, sign a code of ethics, and be
subject to a disciplinary code.
He said it was not clear what proportion of
non-compliant tax practitioners was affiliated with a professional body
such as Saipa and it was not fair to include them in the same category.
Gordhan should instead focus on the contribution tax practitioners make.
The record number of tax submissions via e-filing would
have been driven by tax practitioners, as would generally better levels
of compliance, said Retief.
Tax practitioners were not rendered incompetent because they fell behind on their own filing, Saipa said.
In addition, because there were 18 000 outstanding
returns this did not necessarily mean there were 18 000 defaulting tax
practitioners, as one individual might have two or three tax returns
outstanding, said Retief.
"The real lesson here for taxpayers is they should
ensure that they deal with tax practitioners who are members of Saipa or
one of the other professional bodies," said Retief.
"That way they can be sure of a quality service that is backed up by a professional code and disciplinary procedures," he said.