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SARS and Tax Ombud Sign Agreement

April 30, 2019

South African Revenue Service

30 April 2019

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the Office of Tax Ombud (OTO) have signed an historic agreement to forge an effective working relationship designed to deliver excellent service to the taxpayer.

In a statement, SARS announced that the agreement will “create a single platform for the two institutions to engage each other on matters of mutual interest without conflicting their respective mandates, particularly on corporate and operational issues”.

The agreement calls for “collaborating in a professional manner to uphold the independence and autonomy of each institution”.

Tax Ombud Judge Bernard Ngoepe stressed that the agreement will not undermine OTO’s independence.

“The signed MoU does not mean we will not diligently deal with taxpayers’ complaints against SARS. We remain an independent institution and will continue to execute our mandate fairly and impartially. We are committed to maintaining a balance between SARS’s powers and duties, on the one hand, and taxpayers’ rights and obligations, on the other,” said Judge Ngoepe.

SARS pointed out, however, that the OTO may not, when carrying out its mandate to review taxpayer complaints, review legislation or tax policy, SARS’ policy or practice generally prevailing, other than to the extent that it relates to a service matter, or a procedural or administrative matter arising from the application of the provisions of a tax act by SARS, a matter subject to objection or appeal, except for an administrative matter relating to such objection and appeal; or a decision of, proceeding in, or matter before a tax court.

SARS and the Tax Ombud agreed on “collaborating when the OTO requested information on areas of mutual interest, including access to SARS’ officials who will be available to assist the OTO in relation to information systems, human resources, finance and procurement, executive support, and access to SARS’ training facilities”.

Meanwhile, SARS has indicated that it intends introducing the track-and-trace marker technology in the cigarette industry, which will “enable the organisation to monitor the journey from cigarette manufacturing plants to points of sale and/or import or export trades”.

In a statement, SARS emphasized that the technology is expected to significantly boost the monitoring and control of duties and taxes in the cigarette industry.

The initiative is part of SARS’s strategy to curb revenue leakages emanating from illegal and unethical practices in the illicit economy.

A tender for the provision of a Production Management and a Track and Trace solution for cigarettes has been published on the SARS website.