A taxpayer aggrieved by their tax assessment issued by SARS has the right to dispute the assessment and these are the steps to follow:
- Request reasons: A taxpayer has 30 business days from the date of the assessment to request SARS to provide detailed reasons for the assessment raised. SARS will have up to 45 business days to provide detailed reasons for the assessment from the date of delivery of the taxpayer’s request.
- Request for suspension: “Pay now, argue later”, the saying stands true. Once SARS has raised an assessment, the tax is due and payable on assessment even if the taxpayer is aggrieved by the assessment. The dispute process does not delay or suspend the obligation to pay the tax due by a taxpayer. A taxpayer must make a formal application to SARS to suspend the payment of tax pending the outcome of the objection or appeal.
- Lodge objection: A taxpayer has 30 business days from the date of delivery of SARS’ detailed reasons to lodge an objection against the assessment raised. Within 30 business days after the delivery of the objection, SARS may request the taxpayer to produce additional substantiating documents pertaining to the objection. A taxpayer will have 30 business days from the date of SARS’ request to deliver the substantiating documents.
- SARS decision: If SARS does not request substantiating documents, SARS has 60 business days from the date of delivery of the objection to provide its decision on whether to allow or disallow the objection. If SARS has requested substantiating documents, SARS has 45 business days from the date of delivery of the substantiating documents to provide its decision on whether to allow or disallow the objection.
- Revised Assessment or Appeal: If the objection is allowed, SARS will issue a revised assessment in accordance with the objection. If the objection is disallowed, the taxpayer may appeal within 30 business days from the date of delivery of SARS’ decision.
- Alternative dispute resolution: The dispute process makes provision for a taxpayer to elect that the dispute is resolved through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process thereby avoiding having the dispute escalate to the Tax Board or Tax Court (litigation).
- Tax Board or Tax Court: If the dispute is not resolved by ADR the matter will be heard by the Tax Board or Tax Court (depending on the quantum of the dispute).