Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivering his 2013 Budget Speech in the National Assembly, Parliament, Cape Town. 27/02/2013, Elmond Jiyane

Johannesburg - Government owes it to taxpayers to spend their money wisely, honestly and efficiently, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Monday.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the millions of taxpayers in our country who have provided the state with the means to fund its programmes which, in a virtuous cycle, will stimulate growth, job creation and generate higher future revenue,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery at the launch of a new tax ombudsman.

“We owe them our deep gratitude and a commitment to spend this money wisely, honestly and efficiently. But also we owe to these taxpayers a tax system that treats them fairly.”

The responsibility Judge Bernard Ngoepe had as the Tax Ombud would be to review and address complaints by taxpayers regarding administrative matters, poor service or the failure by SA Revenue Service (Sars) to observe taxpayer rights.

This would be an additional and free avenue to deal with taxpayers' complaints that could not be resolved through Sars' internal mechanisms.

Gordhan said Canada and the United Kingdom used a similar system.

Ngoepe would only review a complaint after a taxpayer had exhausted Sars' internal complaints resolution mechanisms, he said.

Ngoepe said his office would operate independently of Sars and would treat communication between it and the taxpayer with strict confidence.

He said the office would strive to provide the public with information that was easily accessible and understandable. - Sapa