Johannesburg - South Africa's tax ombudsman has asked Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for permission to investigate the nation's revenue service systems after receiving an above-average number of complaints about delays in the payment of tax refunds.
“Throughout the years, we have been receiving complaints about delayed refunds, but it's just that this time around, there has been quite a number of complaints,” tax ombudsman Bernard Ngoepe said on Monday in Pretoria.
“People are also beginning to put pressure on the ombud to investigate this delay.”
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) is forecast to collect R1.14trillion in the year to March, R30.4billion less than projected in 2016 and the biggest shortfall in seven years.
The relationship between tax agency head Tom Moyane and Gordhan has soured since the minister's reappointment in December 2015.
Gordhan blamed a lack of efficiency in tax collection for the shortfall in revenue and Moyane has asked President Jacob Zuma to mediate in the “strained” relationship.
“The investigation will be a great idea, but the challenge will be that Sars may see this as a witch hunt, because of the relationship between themselves and the minister,” Zweli Mabhoza of Priority Tax Solutions, said.
“The ombudsman will be looking at how much the taxpayer is being hard-done-by from these late tax refunds.”