Debt outsourcing FAQs


Is SARS permitted to appoint external third-party debt collectors to recover tax debt?

  • Yes. Section 5(1)c of the SARS Act allows SARS to obtain the service of any person to perform any specific act or function necessary or expedient to perform its function.
  • The recipient of the taxpayer information is required to protect and preserve the secrecy of that information in terms of section 67(4) of Tax Administration Act (TAA).  In fact, SARS has implemented strict control measures to ensure that no taxpayer personal information is compromised by this process.

Why was it necessary for SARS to appoint external third-party debt collectors?

  • This was necessitated by the internal capacity and capability constraints, high debt write-offs, and an ageing debt book. Outsourcing is only one of several actions implemented to manage this.

  • Other actions include the appointment of internal staff, improving internal skills and capabilities, and enhancing policies, processes, systems, and data.

SARS has appointed 21 external third-party debt collectors.

  • SARS has awarded a tender (RFP 45/2021, Appointment of a Panel of external third-party debt collectors for Debt Collection, and related services) and appointed 21 external third-party debt collectors. The list of appointed external third party debt collectors is available on the SARS website.

What process did SARS follow before handing over tax debts to external third-party debt collectors?

  • SARS strives to treat all Taxpayers fairly, to communicate clearly and in a timely manner, and to engage and assist those in default or in financial difficulty, before proceeding with recovery and enforcement actions.
  • Consequence-based collection steps and targeted enforcement, including debt outsourcing, are only implemented against taxpayers that were deemed unwilling to comply.

How will I know that my account was handed over to external third-party debt collectors?

  • Non-compliant taxpayers will receive a handover notification via a formal SARS communication informing them that their account has been outsourced to an external third-party debt collector.
  • You may confirm the validity/authenticity of the external third-party debt collectors contacting you by clicking on this link:  Appointed external third party debt collectors.

What can I expect if I receive a SARS notification that I will be handed over?

  • One of the external third-party debt collectors will contact you, and we request that you cooperate with them.
  • You will be afforded an opportunity to regularise your affairs by:
    • Settling your debt using approved SARS Payment Options.
    • Requesting a payment arrangement via SARS eFiling / MobiApp, or if you are unable to do so, via the External Debt Collector.
    • Requesting compromise of a portion of the tax. This will be approved by SARS if it provides a higher return to the fiscus other than liquidation, sequestration, or other collection measures.
    • Requesting a voluntary third-party appointment (TPA). This is where you instruct SARS to collect directly from any of your debtors to pay-off or settle your debt.
    • Suspension of the debt. This is available to you where you intend to submit or have submitted a formal dispute.

After being handed over, can I decide to deal with SARS directly and not the appointed external third-party debt collectors?

  • No. Please deal directly with SARS appointed external third-party debt collector.
  • If your financial circumstances have changed (eg unemployed or no longer operating), or you have previously engaged SARS but not received a response, please ensure you have the necessary documentation on hand for when the external third-party debt collector engages you. This will assist in expediting the resolution process.
  • If you intend applying for deferment or compromise via the external third-party debt collector (ie you are unable to apply / have access to SARS eFiling / MobiApp), please go to the SARS website for a list of requirements/forms to be completed.

How do I guard against scammers posing as SARS appointed external third-party debt collectors?

  • Verify your tax number using your e-filing profile. Scammers are most likely to use incorrect/wrong tax reference numbers.

  • Do not make payment into any third-party account EXCEPT SARS account using approved SARS Payment Options

What will happen if I fail to cooperate and decide to not pay-off or settle my debt?

  • SARS may enter a civil judgement against you in which case a warrant of execution may be issued for the Sheriff of the Court to attach and sell your assets, or any other avenue to collect the debt in accordance with the provisions of any applicable SARS legislation

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