File image: South African Revenue Service (Sars) Commissioner Tom Moyane

CAPE TOWN - The South African Revenue Services (SARS) has been threatening to take a court action against a number of taxpayers whose payments are in arrears.

According to the article published by the Business Day, it appears that most of these clients have filed objections to the assessments by the taxman. It is believed that applications`for suspension of payment had accompanied the objections until the disputes were resolved.

The Tax Ombud has advised that since this is a systemic issue, taxpayers can go straight to the ombud.

SARS acting spokesman, Sicelo Mkosi says once a suspension has been applied for, its processes do not allow for collection steps to proceed until 10 days after SARS has notified the taxpayer of the result of the suspension request.

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Mkosi clarified that taxpayers shouldn't be receiving final demands at this period, and has advised those involved in such incidents to follow the SARS complaints process so that the tax collector can rectify the situation.

Tax practitioners had accused SARS of not complying with its turnaround time for replying to objections.

When the lack of response is queried by e-mail to the SARS contact e-mail address, the response is that the turnaround time for a query is 21 working days.

Mkosi says practitioners can raise their concerns with industry bodies such as the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica), the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (Saipa) and the South African Institute of Tax Professionals (Sait).

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In November 2017, Sars paid R18.5 billion in refunds to 2.22 million taxpayers at the close of the 2016/17 tax season for non-provisional taxpayers.

During the 2017 tax season, Sars prevented R2.7bn in fraudulent claims in the personal income tax environment, saving the fiscus a potential revenue loss.

The National Treasury presented a revenue shortfall of R50.8-billion at the Mid-Term budget in October 2017 and now expects revenue shortfalls of R69.3-billion in 2018/19.

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