In October 2013 the Office of the Tax Ombud (the OTO) was established to enhance the tax administration system in South Africa. Prior to the OTO there was no independent redress route available to taxpayers, who had exhausted the normal complaints mechanisms within the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The OTO was modelled on the Tax Ombud systems of Canada, the USA and UK and is based on best international practice.
The OTO is under the leadership of the Tax Ombud who is appointed by the Minister of Finance for a renewable five-year term of office. The Tax Ombud reports directly to the Minster and can only be removed by the Minister. Currently the Tax Ombud is retired Judge Bernard Ngoepe, former Judge President of the Gauteng High Courts. The Tax Ombud must appoint the staff of the office of the Tax Ombud who must be employed in terms of the SARS Act.
The mandate of the Tax Ombud is to review and address any complaint by a taxpayer regarding a service matter or a procedural or administrative matter arising from the application of the provisions of a tax Act by SARS. Its mandate is also to review any systemic and emerging issue related to a service matter or the application of the provisions of this Act or procedural or administrative provisions of a tax Act, at the request of the Minister or at the initiative of the Tax Ombud with the approval of the Minister.
In discharging his or her mandate, the Tax Ombud must—
- review a complaint and, if necessary, resolve it through mediation or conciliation;
- act independently in resolving a complaint;
- follow informal, fair and cost-effective procedures in resolving a complaint;
- provide information to a taxpayer about the mandate of the Tax Ombud and the procedures to pursue a complaint;
- facilitate access by taxpayers to complaint resolution mechanisms within SARS to address complaints; and
- identify and review systemic and emerging issues related to service matters or the application of the provisions of this Act or procedural or administrative provisions of a tax Act that impact negatively on taxpayers.
The authority of the Tax Ombud is limited as it may not review—
- legislation or tax policy;
- SARS policy or practice generally prevailing, other than to the extent that it relates to a service matter or a procedural or administrative matter arising from the application of the provisions of a tax Act by SARS;
- a matter subject to objection and appeal under a tax Act, except for an administrative matter relating to such objection and appeal; or
- a decision of, proceeding in or matter before the tax court.
Only if the complainant has exhausted the available complaints resolution mechanisms within SARS, may the Tax Ombud review a complaint request, unless there are compelling circumstances for not doing so.
If you have any enquiries, please send an email to Petri Westraadt at email@example.com
Part E and F of Chapter 2 of the Tax Administration Act No.28 of 2011,
VAT Handbook, 12th Edition 2019, Deloitte, Section 16.4,
Office of the Tax Ombud site – http://www.taxombud.gov.za/AboutUs/Pages/default.aspx