By Kgomotso Ramotsho
The office of the Tax Ombud said it was pleased with the amendments to the Tax Administration Act 28 of 2011 (the Act). In a press release it said that the amendment to the Act will strengthen the independency of the organisation from the South African Revenue Service (Sars).
The amendment will also give the Office of the Tax Ombud powers when addressing taxpayer’s complaints. The amendment further removed the requirement to consult with the Commissioner of Sars when the Tax Ombud appoints its staff and in addition the expenditure connected to the functions of the office of the Tax Ombud is paid in accordance with the budget approved by the Minister of Finance for the office.
The Tax Ombud’s office pointed out that the amendment followed extensive inputs into the Tax Administration Act by the Tax Ombud, who had called for, inter alia, changes to sections of the Act that compromised the office’s independence. On 19 January the proposed amendments to the Act was promulgated as the Tax Administration Laws Amendment Act 16 of 2016.
The Tax Ombud is now also mandated to review — at the request of the Minister of Finance or at its own initiative with the approval of the Minister of Finance — any systemic and emerging issues related to a service matter or the application of the provisions of the Act or procedural or administrative provisions of the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962. This brings the office of the Tax Ombud in line with similar entitles in other jurisdictions such as Australia, United States and Canada.
According to the press release, another amendment is where the Ombud makes recommendations to Sars and such recommendations are not accepted by Sars or the taxpayer, reasons for such decision must be provided to the Tax Ombud within 30 days of the notification of the recommendation.
The CEO of the office of the Tax Ombud, advocate Eric Mkhawane said the amendments are encouraging and a step in the right direction in ensuring that the Tax Ombud can fulfil his mandate without a perception that his office is an extension of Sars.
Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.
This article was first published in De Rebus in 2017 (March) DR 4.