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Accountants defend tax practitioners

Feb 28 2012 13:58 Sapa

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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 said.

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.

accountants  |  saipa
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