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Taxpayers can now turn to new Tax Ombud

Apr 07 2014 12:42

King had to pay a fine totalling R3.208m (R80 000 per count) or face two years in jail. (

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Johannesburg - Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan officially launched the SA Tax Ombud on Monday.

The objective of the Tax Ombud is to review and address complaints by taxpayers regarding service, procedural or administrative issues relating to their dealings with the SA Revenue of Service (Sars).

Retired Judge Bernard Ngoepe is the Tax Ombud.

“Our tax policy framework has proven to be resilient during the global economic turmoil that has tested South Africa’s public finances, its economic policy framework and its regulatory environment," said Gordhan.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the millions of taxpayers in our country, who have provided the state with the means to fund its programmes which, in a virtuous cycle, will stimulate growth, job creation and generate higher future revenue."

He said taxpayers need a commitment that their money will be spent "wisely, honestly and efficiently".

"But also we owe to these taxpayers a tax system that treats them fairly,” said Gordhan.

“The Tax Ombud is an additional and free avenue to deal with complaints by taxpayers that cannot be resolved through Sars’ internal mechanisms. The Tax Ombud’s office draws on comparable institutions in Canada and the United Kingdom.”

The Tax Ombud may not review:

- Legislation or tax policy;

- Sars policy or practice generally prevailing, other than to the extent that it relates to a service matter or a procedural or administrative matter arising from the application of the provisions of a tax act by Sars;

- A matter subject to objection and appeal under a tax act, except for an administrative matter relating to such objection and appeal;

- A decision of, proceeding in or matter before the tax court.

The Tax Ombud's duties:

In discharging its mandate, the Tax Ombud’s office must review a complaint, and if necessary, resolve it through mediation or conciliation with SARS officials specifically identified to interact with the Tax Ombud’s office.

The Tax Ombud may only review a complaint after a taxpayer has exhausted Sars’ internal complaints resolution mechanisms.

Direct access to the Tax Ombud will only be allowed if there are compelling circumstances for doing so.

“Our challenge as the office of the Tax Ombud is not just about affording the taxpayer a fair hearing, or the provision of service; it is much more than that," said Ngoepe.

"It is also about providing information that is easily accessible and understandable."

The office operates independently of Sars and also treats with strict confidence the communication between it and the taxpayer.

Acting Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay said the Tax Ombud will keep them on their toes.

“The credibility of Sars and the success of the Tax Ombuds’ office will depend on how Sars handles complaints," said Pillay.

"This is not only a matter of how we handle an individual complaint. It is more importantly, about the system by which we recognise, treat and report on complaints."

The Tax Ombud reports directly to the Minister of Finance and the Ombud’s annual report must be tabled in parliament by the minister.

sars  |  pravin gordhan  |  tax  |  money


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