I’d like to jump in on an issue that seems to be bothering everyone – VAT disputes – objections and appeals.
If you’ve worked with any tax you would’ve come across a dispute at some stage in your practice. And you’re not alone in experiencing the most common frustrations that many companies have with SARS disputes.
Does any of this sound familiar?
- SARS told me my objection was cancelled;
- We submitted the objection last year and still have heard nothing from SARS;
- We’ve been to SARS 3/4/8/10 times now, submitted and re-submitted copies of the same documents, and still nothing has been resolved; or
- We submitted the objection, and although it hasn’t been 30 days yet, SARS is already chasing up payment on the assessment.
But why are we battling so much with this issue? I believe it’s because of two things:
- There’s a myth that SARS is “untouchable”; and
- Not knowing the correct steps to take, or the options available to you when dealing with a dispute.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to analyse the dispute process and bring you the tools you need to conquer SARS.
First – the Rules of the dispute process explained
The most important document in the dispute process, is The Rules promulgated under section 103 of the Tax Administration Act. These state the procedure you need to follow to lodge your objection and appeal etc.
I call them “The Rules” and you can find them by googling Government Notice No 550. If you’re dealing with objections and/or appeals you cannot be without a copy – they not only tell you how to act, but also tell you your rights and how SARS must act, and what you can do when they don’t!
How does a dispute start?
- SARS makes a decision you don’t agree with; or
- SARS issues an assessment you most certainly aren’t happy with.
Assessments are so common now – you know! Once you’ve uploaded your documents, the input tax is merely reversed by assessment and the reason for issue is “burden of proof not discharged”! I’m going to focus on the steps in dealing with assessments.
Received an assessment? Make sure you check these 2 items:
- Date of assessment – this is the date of issue, NOT the second date;
- The reason for the assessment – if there’s no reason, request it on eFiling. You have 30 days from the date of the assessment to do this. And SARS has 30 days to notify you of the reasons, although The Rules do allow for an extension to 45 days.
And if SARS doesn’t respond to your request at all, there’s a remedy for this in The Rules, which I’ll deal with in another newsletter, where I continue with the disputes minefield.
For now, I’m going to provide an easy-to-understand VAT Update Seminar where I break down the upcoming VAT changes from the 2018 Budget Speech to ensure you remain compliant.