On Friday 10 March 2023, Minister of Finance approved new dispute resolution rules under section 103 of the Tax Administration Act, 2011 ("Rules"). The new Rules repeal the Rules promulgated on 11 July 2014 and comes into effect immediately.
These Rules prescribe the procedures in lodging objections and appeals against assessment or decision, procedures for alternative dispute resolution, conduct and hearing of appeals, application on notice before tax court and transitional rules.
The good news
The big change that came about with the new Rules is that taxpayers are now permitted 80 business days from the date of assessment or decision to lodge an objection, as opposed to the 30 business days period under the old Rules. Taxpayers have, in the past, raised concerns that the period permitted to deliver objection is not sufficient, which makes it impossible for the taxpayers to formulate their objection considering the length of time South African Revenue Service ("SARS") enjoys to complete an audit.
The new Rules also came with transitional measures and provide measures for specific requests in respect of procedural matters taken or instituted under the old Rules but not yet completed before the new Rules came into force.
How does the transition of new Rules work
- Where the assessment or decision was issued or made before 10 March 2023 and 30 business days from that date expired before 10 March 2023, then the taxpayer is trapped by the old Rules and must request for condonation under Rule 68 (1) and (3) of the new Rules.
- Where the assessment or decision was issued or made before 10 March 2023 and 30 business days from that date expire after 10 March 2013, then the taxpayer has an additional 50 business days to lodge the objection without having to request for condonation.
- Where an assessment or decision was issued or made after 10 March 2023, the taxpayer has 80 business days from the date of the assessment or decision to lodge an objection.
While the new Rules presumably provide taxpayers with sufficient time to formulate their grounds of objection, we caution that this extension by a further 50 business days is not a ticket for taxpayers to be reactive or delay in dealing with SARS dispute. A good rule of thumb is that taxpayers should deal with all correspondence received from SARS immediately.
The step to extend the period of filing the objection by a further 50 business days appears to be aligned to SARS' strategic objectives, which seeks to provide clarity and certainty, as well as make it easy and seamless for taxpayers and traders to comply with their obligations.
The new Rules were published in the Government Gazette shortly before 16:00 on Friday, 10 March 2023. Click here for new rules.
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