Tax dispute resolution is the territory of astute tax attorneys who task themselves with understanding the nuances of tax law and know which strategy to pursue to capitalise on the remedies afforded by the Rules to ensure favourable outcomes. We provide individuals, corporates and high net worth taxpayers with technical tax assistance during a dispute with SARS. This includes assistance from a pre-audit stage to tax court. Our expert team led by core Tax Specialist Jerry Botha, comprises Admitted Tax Attorneys, Master Tax Practitioners, Legal Tax Advisors and Chartered Accountants who have saved taxpayers millions in undue taxes, penalties and interest through the tax dispute resolution process.
We resolve SARS matters faster and our strategy ensures a positive outcome, almost always before Tax Court. We provide corporate taxpayers with technical tax assistance during a dispute with SARS. Our fine-comb approach includes compliance with tax legislation and related statutory requirements, pro-active and optimal tax planning, and rendering legal assistance for defensible matters prior to and in Tax Court. Tax dispute resolution is just that, a legal process like any other. In saying that, it must be remembered that the substance of these disputes is tax law, which is well known for its fluidity and intricacies.
The Dispute Process:
If you disagree with any aspect of an assessment, it is important to proceed strategically with the dispute resolution process from the outset. Knowledge of the rules for dispute resolution under the Tax Administration Act improves the probability of a positive outcome significantly.
It is also important to take cognisance of the time periods prescribed by the rules. Failure to adhere to these periods means the taxpayer will have to request condonation from SARS, which unnecessarily complicates and prolongs the dispute.
ADR process and Tax Board / Tax Court:
When the ADR process is elected, SARS will have 30 business days to indicate whether the matter is appropriate for ADR. In the event that no notice is received by the taxpayer, an application may be made within 15 business days for default judgement. When SARS indicates that the matter may proceed to ADR and it is unsuccessful, the taxpayer may then appeal to the tax board within 35 business days and request that the matter be set down.
Request for reasons – Rule 6
Rule 6 provides taxpayers with the opportunity to request reasons for assessment within 30 days from the date of assessment. It is always prudent to file a request for reasons, as it will help the taxpayer formulate his or her objection. It is important to draft the request in a manner that will draw a meaningful response from SARS that will give you the information you need to establish a solid foundation to take on the dispute.
SARS must provide the taxpayer with its response to the request within 45 business days.
Objection – Rule 7
Rule 7 provides that the taxpayer must submit an objection within 80 days of the date of assessment or, where the taxpayer requested reasons, within 80 days of receipt of SARS’ response. SARS has 60 days to consider the taxpayer’s objection and notify the taxpayer if the objections has been allowed or disallowed.
It is important that the objection be set out in the prescribed manner and that the relevant supporting documentation be submitted with it. If the objection falls short of the requirements, SARS will declare the objection invalid. This will cause unnecessary delay, as the taxpayer must then file a new objection within 20 days, which objection will be considered afresh.
Request for substantiating documents – Rule 8
In some instances SARS may request the taxpayer to submit additional documentation in support of the objection. The taxpayer must respond cautiously to this request to ensure that the objection is not declared invalid. The taxpayer has to respond to the request within 30 days.
Where SARS has requested information under rule 8, it has 45 days to provide an outcome on the objection from the date of receipt of the information from the taxpayer.
Notice of Appeal – Rule 10
If SARS disallows the taxpayer’s objection, rule 10 provides the taxpayer with 30 days to appeal SARS’ decision. When filing the appeal, the taxpayer must indicate whether he or she wishes to take part in the dispute resolution procedures (ADR).