3 OCTOBER 2002


Today marks an important milestone in the transformation of SARS. The Minister of Finance is proud to announce another step in the development of a new service approach to the South African public. The two new service delivery initiatives, the SARS Service Monitoring Office (SARS SMO) and the Dispute Resolution Process (DRP) are intended to be mechanisms of last resort for the public. They will afford SARS the opportunity to effectively operate as an efficient tax administration.

These initiatives address two important issues that are required to provide improved service delivery to taxpayers. These issues are:

The SARS SMO is not a point of first call, but is a tool that can be used by aggrieved taxpayers who are not satisfied with the service provided to them at branch offices. These taxpayers will normally follow a three-step approach to arrive at the SARS SMO:

  1. They will raise the issue with the person they have been dealing with or - if they prefer - that person's immediate manager.
  2. If the issue cannot be resolved, they will contact the relevant branch manager, who will objectively review the matter.
  3. If the taxpayers are still not happy, they will refer the matter to the SARS SMO.

The SARS SMO therefore does not replace existing channels and procedures. All SARS branches have dedicated taxpayer service staff who should be used as the first point of entry in case of complaints.

The SARS SMO will function independently of SARS branch offices, will report directly to the Commissioner of SARS, and maintain an objective perspective on the complaints it receives. It will ensure that issues and complaints that could not be resolved at a SARS branch office are properly recorded, monitored and resolved. The creation of this office is tangible evidence of SARS commitment to the improvement of service delivery.

Typical complaints that will be referred to the SARS SMO are:

However, it must be clearly understood that the SARS SMO will not be responsible for:

With regard to disagreements in respect of substantive matters, SARS will be releasing proposed rules for a new Dispute Resolution Process (DRP) for public comment shortly. The proposed rules are far more detailed than the existing rules and set out specific time limits within which a matter must be attended to. They also make provision for alternative dispute resolution procedures as SARS recognises that, in suitable cases, an agreed outcome is better than a litigated outcome from a client service perspective.

These two new service delivery initiatives are two further steps in SARS' emulation of international standards for an efficient tax administration. They will benefit not only the individual taxpayers that make use of them but will assist all taxpayers by improving SARS' internal processes and speeding up the clarification of uncertainties in the law.

"SARS: Putting Things Right"


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Two useful pieces of information that were made available at the SARS SMO's launch and in the SARS and SARS SMO brochures are the telephone number for the SARS SMO (0860 12 12 16) and its home on the WWW ( Branch managers' names and telephone numbers may be obtained from either source.