SARS Tax Practitioner Readiness Programme
The SARS Tax Practitioner Readiness Programme is an educational product that provides important information on the obligations and responsibilities of tax practitioners, and SARS processes that tax practitioners need to follow to provide high quality, professional and ethical services to clients.
Per the amended recognition criteria for Recognised Controlling Bodies (RCBs) and tax practitioners, this training is compulsory for individuals who want to register as a tax practitioners from 1 July 2022. While the focus of the programme is for individuals who want to register as tax practitioners, the modules can equally be used by existing tax practitioners to refresh their knowledge on the tax environment within which they operate. It is believed the content would be beneficial for all tax practitioners.
There are eight modules which are accompanied by videos and written material. These are as follows:
- Module 1: Legislation
- Module 2: Criteria for recognition of controlling bodies
- Module 3: How to register as a tax practitioner
- Module 4: Getting started, becoming SARS Ready
- Module 5: Channels of Engagement
- Module 6: eFiling
- Module 7.1: eFiling Employer Tax Season made easy
- Module 7.2: [email protected] Employer Tax Season made easy
- Module 8 – Part 1: Debt management
- Module 8 – Part 2: Dispute resolution
- Module 8 – Part 3: Complaints and escalations
The Office of the Tax Ombud process is also covered.
SARS will be implementing this programme as follows:
- All learning materials have been provided to RCBs, and members can work through their RCBs to register for the programme.
- SARS will be placing the programme on the SARS YouTube TV Channel once all internal governance processes have been completed.
- SARS will also be conducting virtual sessions of the programme as follows:
- Session 1: 28 June 2022 (completed)
- Session 2: 29 June 2022 (completed)
- Session 3: 26 July 2022
- Session 4: 30 August 2022
- Session 5: 27 September 2022
Any person who wishes to register for this programme is encouraged to work through his/her RCB.
The SARS Tax Practitioner Readiness Programme coincides with the opening of Individual Tax Season and the learning material will benefit all tax practitioners who advise and/or prepare tax submissions on behalf of taxpayers.
Opening of individual Filing Season
SARS is aware that there are unregistered individuals who perform the functions of tax practitioners, especially at this time of a year, when individual taxpayers tend to consult with tax professionals when completing their tax submissions. The registration of tax practitioners is important to ensure competency and ethical conduct when representing a taxpayer. Unregistered individuals sometimes bring the tax profession into disrepute, and SARS, RCBs, registered tax practitioners and taxpayers need to work together to root out this problem.
The Tax Administration Act (TAA), section 234(c) states that: “A person who wilfully and without just cause, fails or neglects to register as a tax practitioner with SARS as required under section 240, is guilty of an offence and, upon conviction, is subject to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.”
We have enabled and empowered our staff in the regions to identify individuals who are rendering services for a fee but fail to register as tax practitioners. Where such individuals purport to be tax practitioners, SARS staff will put in the necessary steps to verify or authenticate them. If you come across such individuals, please notify SARS through [email protected].
For Filing Season 2022, SARS will again raise auto assessments for a selected group of individual taxpayers. Unlike last year, auto assessments will be original assessments this year. An auto assessment is raised based on data (we refer to this as third-party data) that SARS receives from third-party data providers like employers, financial institutions, medical schemes and so on.
A taxpayer who is auto assessed and is satisfied that the SARS assessment is correct, does not have to do anything (unlike in the years before, where the taxpayer had to “accept” a simulated assessment before it became an original assessment). If a refund is due, the refund will be paid and if tax is due to SARS, the taxpayer must pay to SARS the due amount on or before the due date indicated on the assessment.
A taxpayer who is auto assessed but is not satisfied that the assessment is correct must file a tax return in the normal way, within 40 business days of the notice of assessment. It is important to note that the dispute resolution route cannot be followed at this stage of the process – the taxpayer must file a tax return so that SARS can evaluate it and, where necessary, issue a revised assessment. However, if SARS decides that the original assessment is to remain (i.e., SARS does not issue a revised assessment in response to the taxpayer’s submission of a tax return after an auto assessment), the taxpayer can use the dispute resolution route as per the normal process.
- SARS can extend the 40 business days referred to above if the taxpayer requests extension before the expiry of the 40 business days and submits reasonable grounds for the request.
- SARS can extend the 40 business days after the expiry of the 40 business days if the taxpayer’s request is submitted to SARS within 21 business days after the expiry of the 40 business days, and if accompanied by reasonable grounds.
- SARS can extend the 40 business days after the expiry of the 40 business days if the taxpayer’s request is submitted to SARS within 3 years after the expiry of the 40 business days, and if accompanied by exceptional circumstances.
Important dates for individuals – Filing Season 2022
1 July to 24 October 2022
- Non-provisional taxpayers who file online via eFiling or through the SARS MobiApp.
- Non-provisional taxpayers who cannot file online, can do so at a SARS branch, only by appointment.
1 July 2022 to 23 January 2023
SARS auto assessments are an innovative way to simplify the process and to make it easy for taxpayers to comply.
SARS calls on Representative taxpayers of Trusts to register Trusts for Income Tax purposes and/or file outstanding tax returns
SARS would like to advise representative taxpayers of trusts of their duty to register trusts for income tax purposes.
Trusts are included in the definition of a “person” in terms of the Income Tax Act, 1962 (ITA), and as such the trustees or representative taxpayers have a responsibility to register all trusts for income tax purposes. Trusts that are required to register include all local trusts, non-resident trusts that are effectively managed in the Republic of South Africa as well as non-resident trusts that derive income from a South African source (for further guidance refer to FAQs on the SARS website https://www.sars.gov.za/businesses-and-employers/trusts/).
The representative taxpayers of trusts are the trustees of a trust, but the responsibility to submit the tax return may be conferred on a specific trustee or a tax practitioner. SARS wishes to remind trustees of trusts that they are required to ensure that the tax returns of trusts are submitted. Currently a trust, whether active or dormant, must submit an income tax return on an annual basis in line with the requirements issued annually by the Commissioner (as is required in terms of section 66 of the ITA). For the 2021 year of assessment, the filing season for trusts opened on the 1st of July 2021.
Representative taxpayers of trusts are reminded of the availability of the Voluntary Disclosure Programme (VDP) subject to the requirements thereof, should a trust not be registered for income tax purposes. Details of the VDP are available on the SARS website at https://www.sars.gov.za/legal-counsel/voluntary-disclosure-programme-vdp/. Should representative taxpayers require further assistance, kindly contact the VDP on 0800 864 613 or by e-mail to [email protected]
The representative taxpayers of trusts or their representatives are advised to ensure that all outstanding income tax returns are submitted without delay to avoid further penalties and interest.
SARS Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter reaffirmed SARS’ commitment to provide clarity and certainty to taxpayers so that they can effortlessly fulfil their legal obligations, and trusts are one of the vehicles that are used by taxpayers to operate in a number of ways.
This statement does not replace the actual text of the provisions in the Income Tax Act, 1962, nor the guidance on the SARS website. Taxpayers who require further assistance may refer to our website at www.sars.gov.za.
For more information, contact [email protected]
SARS 25th Anniversary
In the last twenty-five years, SARS has evolved and developed products that are based on our understanding of the challenges of being tax compliant. One of these challenges was the way in which the tax advisory industry was regulated. We believe that tax practitioners are an essential part of the tax value chain. To ensure that the sector is professional and ethical SARS began with legislation to regulate the profession. See below, for a summary of the path towards the Chapter 18 regulations in the Tax Administration Act (2012).
Legislative journey to the current Chapter 18 of the Tax Administration Act (TAA)
In the 2002 Budget speech, the Minister of Finance announced that “In order to promote better compliance and ensure that taxpayers receive advice consistent with tax legislation, SARS will initiate discussions on the regulation of tax consultants and advisors in South Africa, with appropriate sanctions in the event of noncompliance with tax legislation.”
SARS began a process of consultations with the tax professional and advisory sector in November 2002. In these discussions, SARS proposed that an Independent Regulatory Board for tax practitioners be established. This body would consist of at least three members appointed by the Minister of Finance and would be empowered to prescribe the standards of qualification and experience of tax practitioners, maintain the registration system, implement a code of professional conduct and to take disciplinary action where necessary.
This resulted in the proposed Draft Bill on the Regulation of Tax Practitioners in July 2008, which proposed a phased implementation approach.
Phase 1 involved the registration of all tax practitioners with SARS to establish the number of existing tax practitioners and their qualifications, experience and understand their membership of existing professional bodies.
Phase 2 involved the establishment of an Independent Regulatory Board for tax practitioners through a separate Bill. To sustain itself, the Board would charge tax practitioners a fee. This would be in addition to the fee paid by tax practitioners to belong to existing professional bodies. Affordability was a concern for the sector.
Through further consultation in 2009, a different model was proposed where SARS and professional bodies could both play a role in regulating the industry and tax practitioners could avoid additional fees. In the draft Tax Administration Bill (October 2009) the concept of a controlling body for tax practitioners was introduced. It was defined as a body established, whether voluntarily or under a law, with power to take disciplinary action against a person who, in carrying on a profession, contravenes the applicable rules or code of conduct for the profession.
A co-registration model was proposed where professional bodies where tax practitioners were present could apply to SARS to become a Recognised Controlling Body (RCB) – if they met and maintained the conditions below:
- Minimum qualifications and experience requirements for its members
- Continuing professional education requirements
- Codes of ethics and conduct
- Disciplinary process and procedures
The applicant must have a minimum of 1 000 members upon recognition or have a reasonable expectation of reaching 1000 members by end of the first year of recognition.
The Tax Administration Laws Amendment Act, 2012, in Chapter 18 provided for the compulsory registration of tax practitioners with a recognised controlling body by 1 July 2013.
SARS has made significant progress in the last four years in regulating the segment through strengthening relationships with RCBs, reviewing the minimum criteria for recognition of RCBs and registration of tax practitioners, undertaking steps to reconcile and clean up the register of tax practitioners, deregistering tax practitioners who are non-compliant with their own tax obligations and finalising matters pertaining to unprofessional conduct of tax practitioners.
Registered Representative Webinar for Tax Practitioners
SARS recently held a webinar to address how the registered representative functionality on eFiling is to be utilised where taxpayers are represented by tax practitioners. The webinar was well attended. For those who did not watch the webinar, the recorded session is available on the SARS YouTube Channel. Key information was shared, and tax practitioners are encouraged to view it.
You can access the webinar at https://youtu.be/TcWyWYVOhOU
Please note the changes to legislation that affects you as a registered tax practitioner and the invitation to provide comment by 01 July 2022. It can be found on Legal Counsel pages of the SARS website as per the summary below.
Due date for public comment: 1 July 2022
SARS also publishes newsletters for the SMME and Government segments.
Click here to view the latest segment newsletters:
- Government Connect Issue 1
- Government Connect Issue 2
- Government Connect Issue 3
- SMME Connect #1
- SMME Connect #2
SARS Junior Board
In support of Youth Month, we would like to share with you how SARS is encouraging young staff to become future leaders.
The Commissioner and the SARS leadership have established the SARS Junior Board in support of our strategic intent of developing a high performing, diverse, agile, engaged, and evolved workforce. It adds a dimension of a multi-generational approach that balances the leadership experience with the boldness and fresh perspectives of young leaders.
The mandate of the board is as follows:
- To form an integral component of the broader leadership platform led by Commissioner.
- To deliberate on the SARS Vision 2024, and strategic Intent and contribute to their insights and inputs to enrich the broader strategic conversations and accelerate positive and meaningful change.
- To engage in productive dialogue with the respective leadership forums to challenge conventional thinking and be the provocateurs of a different way of leading.
- To form a core group to catalyse a broader organisation conversation that elicits active participation from the rest of the under 35`s.
- To add value in other creative and innovative ways.
- To embark on a developmental orientation under the philosophy of “leading to learn and learning to lead”.