Johannesburg 23-10-18 South African currency, the Rand in a persons hand. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - A day doesn’t go by without Tax Consulting South Africa being contacted by a frustrated taxpayer who has experienced a delay in his or her VAT refund from the South African Revenue Service (Sars), said Christopher Renwick, an attorney at Tax Consulting SA. This is more than a year after the Tax Ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, issued a rather critical report on the Sars VAT refund structure. “Perhaps the report has fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

What is clear, said Renwick, is that taxpayer frustration has been intensified by the revenue service’s “excessive and unwarranted” verification demands, “which seem to be driven by the aim to delay legitimate refunds”.

“The most brazen example brought to our attention was where Sars withdrew money from a taxpayer’s bank account without following due procedure. Upon proving his case, the taxpayer was owed the funds back and a refund was due. Sars immediately requested a verification of bank details,” said Renwick. “Let me repeat that: Sars requested a verification of bank details from an account they had just drawn funds from.”

He said that in Tax Consulting South Africa’s experience, the easiest route is to go direct.

“Call Sars to order and get a response. Too many taxpayers believe that once their refund is within the system that is Sars, there is no hope and it becomes a wait-and-pray type of game. How do you go direct? You use your years of experience and expertise to garner a result. If you’re short on these, contact a professional.”