The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has reviewed its objection and appeal procedures following complaints by taxpayers and tax professionals that tax disputes take an extended period of time, sometimes a number of years, to resolve. The new Dispute Resolution Process is intended to significantly improve the manner in which tax disputes between SARS and taxpayers are resolved.
Releasing the proposed rules for the new Dispute Resolution Process for comment, Mr. Pravin Gordhan, Commissioner for SARS said: "The new Dispute Resolution Process is one of two recent service delivery initiatives responding to the concerns of taxpayers and tax professionals. The Service Monitoring Office launched on 3 October 2002 will enhance service delivery to taxpayers in respect of administrative processes and procedural difficulties, while the new Dispute Resolution Process will enhance service delivery in respect of substantive tax matters."
The new rules are much more detailed about the process to be followed and are driven by time limits within which a matter must be attended to. They make provision for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures and settlement discussions to allow for the resolution of tax disputes outside the litigation arena. This ADR process and settlements will be inexpensive and less formal than the court process, and will substantially reduce the amount of time taken to resolve tax disputes.
The new rules also specifically provides for a taxpayer to request reasons for an assessment.
The new rules are available on the SARS website on www.sars.gov.za. Comments are invited from taxpayers and tax professionals on the new Dispute Resolution Process. These must be sent via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or faxed to (012) 422 5192, and must reach SARS on or before 29 November 2002.
ISSUED BY THE COMMISSIONER FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN REVENUE SERVICE