Many compliant taxpayers feel they are mistreated with regard to their VAT refunds. This may be partly due to the perfect storm of a shrinking economy, shrinking tax base, financial strain, administrative delays and perceived deliberate delays when you are due a VAT refund. These delays and difficulties are placing financial strain on the small to medium enterprise fraternity, and with some of our clients, we have seen that this comes down to survival. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly not assisted the economy, the government or any business growth. A welcome announcement was made by President Ramaphosa, in his national address on 21 April 2020, specifically stating that VAT refunds will be fast-tracked.
SARS Auditors and Dispute Resolution
You will always have the right of access to the Tax Board or Tax Court in a situation whereby a SARS official has not properly interpreted or applied the law. It is never a good idea to approach the court on weak facts, so we insist that our first step of professional engagement is a proper review of the merits. You should consider fast-tracking your matter in order to become compliant. The following is to be considered where you seek expeditious resolution of issues:
- Submit an appeal without the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) option. This means the matter goes straight to Tax Board / Tax Court without using ADR remedies such as arbitration. ADR is frequently approached for the purposes of settling and it will be taken much more seriously where you seek relief from the Tax Board / Court;
- The correct Tax Board / Court application normally gets resolved long before the steps of Court. Highly competent persons concede before SARS decides to litigate and this a completely different experience that dealing with an auditor who does not want to release a refund; and
- Do not take on the legal route lightly. It is essential that you comply with the Rules fully to ensure your matter is compliant so that no further administrative delays occur and so that you avoid an adverse decision due to administrative non-compliance.
The legal route is very much embedded in our tax law as part of the Dispute Resolution process and we foresee that the correct representation will become an integral part of resolving complex and high value SARS matters. Our multidisciplinary team of tax attorneys and chartered accountants follow a strict legal and compliant approach with solution-based thinking. Working with our attorneys also guarantees full legal professional privilege on your matter.