The Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (Act No. 2 of 2000) is commonly referred to as PAIA.
Why is PAIA relevant?
PAIA gives legislative effect to the right of access to information in accordance with section 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (the Constitution).
Both private and public bodies have a duty to provide the access to the requested records, unless specifically refused in terms of PAIA. This means that any record held by the State or the private sector may be accessed upon request, which includes SARS records.
Where can you obtain a copy of PAIA?
A number of current statutes are provided free of charge by the University of Pretoria in conjunction with the Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) on Laws of South Africa. The current versions of the Constitution and PAIA can be found in the category for Constitutional Law.
Who may request information under PAIA?
A requestor in respect of a public body is defined in PAIA to mean any person, or someone acting on their behalf, except certain organs of state or functionaries or institutions exercising powers or performing a duty in terms of the Constitution or a provincial constitution. A requestor–
- can thus be an individual
- do not need to be a South African citizen
- can also be any juristic person, such as a company or an association.
This means that taxpayers and members of the public may request access to SARS records in terms of PAIA.
Where do you start?
We have a Manual on the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000, wherein the application of PAIA and impact for SARS is explained, as well as everything else you need to know. Therefore, read our manual first to ensure what type of information you may request.
Note that there are different fees that might be applicable. Then, complete the Request for Information under PAIA (Annexure 1 in the manual) and submit it to the Information Officer or Deputy Information Officers at SARS at the details listed at the bottom of this page.
What will happen to your request?
The Information Officer / Deputy Information Officers, upon receiving your PAIA request, will coordinate the processes within SARS to obtain the record(s) from the relevant SARS Branch Offices.
These processes include, inter alia, the following:
- Liaison with the requestor if more details are needed, if fees are payable or when an extension of time to deal with the request is needed
- Making the decision as to whether access to the record(s) requested can be granted under PAIA
- Communication with the requestor about the outcome of the request
- Provision of copies of the record(s) if the request was granted and finalised
What can be expected of SARS?
Upon receipt of your request, it will be acknowledged by the Information Officer / Deputy Information Officers within 14 working days. The relevant Deputy Information Officer assigned to deal with the particular request will reply within 30 days (60 days in certain circumstances) to inform you whether your request has been granted or refused. Access to records will be granted in the format requested or in the format that the records exist, if the requested format is not available.
About the fees
In certain circumstances you will be required to pay a fee to SARS before your request is considered or the records that you have requested are made available to you.
A request fee
If you request access to records containing personal information about yourself you will not be required to pay the request fee. Any other request must be accompanied by the required request fee which is currently R35,00. The request fee is not refundable.
An access fee
If the request is granted an access fee must be paid for the reproduction of records and for time in excess of one hour to search and prepare the records for disclosure. Where the time to prepare the records for disclosure is likely to exceed six hours, a deposit of one third of the anticipated access fee may be required as a deposit.
No fees are applicable if you are –
- single and earn less than R14 712 per year
- married or have a life partner and earn less than R27 192 per year
How do you pay the fees?
SARS has a prescribed manner in which payments are made and that is described on How do I pay?
When your request has been considered, the Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer will contact you after receiving your application for access to information and payment details will then be given to you.
What type of information can you request?
PAIA applies to any existing recorded information that is in the possession or control of the public or private body you are requesting information from. When requesting a record from a public body you do not have to provide a reason for the request.
When will access to the information be granted?
You will be given access to information if you have complied with all procedural requirements in PAIA relating to the request for access to that record, such as–
- the request was properly made on the prescribed request form
- you have furnished proof of authority to act on another’s behalf, if you are not making the request on your own
- the record you have requested is sufficiently described to enable the Deputy Information Officer to identify it and
- you have paid the required fees where applicable
Can access to information be denied?
Yes, there are some instances in which PAIA does not allow information to be made available.
These instances are divided into different categories, which can be found in the Manual.
What if you are not satisfied with the answers you received?
If you are not satisfied, you may lodge and internal appeal (Form B: Notice of Internal Appeal).
You submit the completed Form B to the Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer who dealt with your original request.
This will then be forwarded to the designated officials within Legal & Policy dealing with internal appeals within 30 days of receipt of the notice of appeal.
If all internal appeal processes have been depleted and you are still not satisfied with the outcome, the matter can then be taken to court.
Any requests for information under PAIA may be submitted by post, facsimilee or email, or may be hand-delivered to SARS’s appointed Information Officer or Deputy Information Officers. The contact details are indicated below.
The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service
Lehae La SARS
299 Bronkhorst Street
Nieuw Muckleneuk PRETORIA
Private Bag X 923
Tel: (+2712) 422-2006
Fax: (+2712) 452-9676
Email: [email protected]
Deputy Information Officers
Buks Annandale (Non-tax related matters)
Siyabonga Nkabinde (All matters)
Oscar Mosito (All matters)
271 Bronkhorst Street
Tel: (+2712) 422-5081/5392/6611/
Email: [email protected]