When taxpayers are aggrieved by an assessment or not satisfied with a decision taken by SARS if the decision is subject to objection and appeal, they have a right to dispute the assessment or decision.
Chapter 9 of the Tax Administration Act, 2011, and the rules made under section 103 thereof (the DR rules), provide the legal framework for these disputes across all tax types found in the various tax Acts administered by SARS, excluding the customs and excise Acts.
The DR rules are made by the Minister of Finance and are of equal status to regulations and similar subordinate legislation.
Quick links for ease of reference
The hearing of tax appeals by the courts in South Africa
Tax appeals in the first instance are heard either by the Tax Board or the Tax Court.
The Tax Board is established by the Minister of Finance under section 108 of the Tax Administration Act.
It is not a court as referred to in section 166 of the Constitution, but an administrative tribunal created under the Tax Administration Act.
The Tax Board hears tax appeals involving tax in dispute that does not exceed the amount determined by the Minister under section 109(1)(a) of the Tax Administration Act, 2011.
This amount has been increased to R1 000 000 with effect from 1 January 2016.
You can access the Notice on the amount here: Notice 1196
39490 of 17 December 2015)
You can access the Notice in relation to the addresses where documents, notices or requests are to be delivered here: Public Notice 3135
48187 of 10 March 2023)
The taxpayer and SARS must also agree that a matter be heard by the Tax Board.
If the taxpayer or SARS is not satisfied with the decision of the Tax Board, the taxpayer or SARS may request that the matter be heard de novo by the Tax Court. This is not an appeal against the decision of the Tax Board, but a completely new trial.
The sittings of the Tax Board are not public and the Board’s decisions are not published by SARS.
The decisions of the Tax Board are binding on the parties but have no precedent value.
The Tax Court is established by the President of the Republic under s.116 of the Tax Administration Act, 2011.
The Tax Court has jurisdiction over tax appeals lodged under section 103 of the Tax Administration Act and may also hear interlocutory applications and procedural matters relating to objections and appeals.
The procedures of the Tax Court are regulated both under Chapter 9 of the Tax Administration Act and the rules issued under section 103 thereof.
Delivery of a notice of objection under Rule 7
There are two different procedures, depending on the type of tax.
1. For personal tax and corporate income tax, delivery must be made-
by means of the taxpayer’s electronic filing page – if applicable
by post to any of the addresses listed below
by handing it in to SARS at any SARS branch office
2. For value-added tax, employees tax (PAYE) or other tax, delivery must be made-
Private Bag x15
St Austell Street
Private Bag x11
Corner of Teddington & De Lange Road
PO Box 436
7 Protea Street
Delivery of any document, notice or making a request relating to the dispute process after delivery of a notice of appeal or an application in terms of Part F of the Rules
|Tax Court Litigation
Khanyisa Building – First Floor
271 Bronkhorst Street
|Fax: +27-12-422 5012
Email: [email protected]
Rule 3(1) read with Rule 2(1)(c)(iii) – Registrar of the Tax Court
The Tax Court hears tax appeals involving tax in disputes in terms of section 103 of the Tax Administration Act, 2011. These appeals would have either been dealt with first at a SARS branch, the Tax Board, or been through the ADR process in terms of Rule 13 of the Tax Court Rules.
Once the Notice to Appeal has been lodged by the Taxpayer, then SARS must initiate the process in terms of Rule 31 and several pleadings are exchanged between the parties and documents discovered before it is ripe for hearing at the Tax Court.
All documents, notices or requests intended for the Registrar of the Tax Court, must be delivered at this address:
Office of the Registrar: Tax Court
271 Bronkhorst Street
Chief Registrar: Tax Court
Tel: +27-12-422 5557
Fax: +27-12-422 5012
The sittings of the Tax Court are generally not public, although the president of the Tax Court may, in exceptional circumstances, on application by any person, allow a sitting to be public.
The Tax Court consists of a judge of the High Court, as well as an accountant member and a commercial member selected from a panel of members appointed by the President of the Republic.
The Tax Court may also, in matters involving more than R50 million tax in dispute and with the approval of the Judge-President of the jurisdiction within which the Tax Court sits, consist of three judges of the High Court and the two members.
The judgments of the Tax Court must be published for general information but, if the sitting was not public, it must be in a form that does not reveal the taxpayer’s identity.
A taxpayer or SARS may appeal against the Tax Court’s judgment to the full bench of the Provincial Division of the High Court, or to the SCA if the president of the Tax Court on request allows a direct appeal to the SCA.
An appeal heard by the full bench may be further appealed to the SCA.
The judgments of the Tax Court are not binding on other courts, but only between the parties. However, the judgments of the Tax Court are of persuasive value in other Tax Courts, the High Courts and the SCA.
The High Courts, which have previously been called “The Supreme Courts”, are spread throughout South Africa and are regulated by the Superior Courts Act, 2013. They have jurisdiction over the defined provincial areas in which they are situated and over all persons residing or present in that area. These courts hear matters that are of such a serious nature that the lower courts would not be competent to make an appropriate judgment or to impose a penalty in that regard, as well as matters referred to them by law.
Under section 133 of the Tax Administration Act, a taxpayer or SARS may appeal against the Tax Court’s judgment to the full bench of the High Court which has jurisdiction in the area in which the tax court sitting is held. The sittings of the High Courts are public and its judgments are published for general information.
The judgments of the High Court are binding on all lower courts and tribunals and of persuasive value in other High Courts and higher courts such as the SCA and the Constitutional Court.
Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA)
The SCA is seated in Bloemfontein and is the highest court in South Africa, except for constitutional matters. It generally only deals with cases referred from the High Court, but statutory provision is made in section 133 of the Tax Administration Act for direct access from the Tax Court.
The sittings of the SCA are public and its judgments are published for general information.
The judgments of the SCA are binding on all lower courts and tribunals and, except for the Constitutional Court, no other court can overturn a decision of the SCA.
The Constitutional is the highest court in all constitutional matters. It is the only court that may adjudicate disputes between organs of state in the national or provincial sphere of Government concerning the constitutional status, powers or functions of any of those organs of state, or that may decide on the constitutionality of any amendment to the Constitution or any parliamentary or provincial Bill.
The Constitutional Court makes the final decision on whether an Act of Parliament, a provincial Act or the conduct of the President is constitutional. In the context of tax appeals, it has a limited jurisdiction to review an SCA judgment dealing with a tax appeal.