TAX Ombud Judge Bernard Ngoepe. Photo: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – Close to R450 million in tax refunds was paid to the first top 10 taxpayers – thanks to the intervention of the Office of the Tax Ombud (OTO), and more than 99 percent of recommendations made by the Tax Ombud Judge Bernard Ngoepe were implemented by the SA Revenue Services (Sars). 

These are some of the highlights contained in the Tax Ombud 2017/18 Annual Report discussed by tax experts and other important stakeholders in the tax sphere at The Protea Fire & Ice Hotel, in Menlyn, Pretoria on Tuesday.

Judge Ngoepe told more than 100 delegates who attended the launch of the report that the top 10 complaints with the highest amounts resulted in R446m in VAT and CIT refunds paid out to taxpayers after they lodged complaints with the OTO against Sars. The highest refund paid was a VAT refund of R158 286 298.15, followed by R90 973 572.17.

Ngoepe said that the organisation had experienced a significance increase in the number of contacts from 670 in the 2013/14 financial year, to more than 17 000 in the 2017/18 financial year.

“We are pleased with how we have been able to help promote fairness in the country’s tax administration system and we look forward to working with other stakeholders not to just promote and protect the rights of taxpayers but also promote tax compliance,” he said.

“This office has helped resolve thousands of taxpayers’ complaints against the revenue collector in the past five years but there is still much that needs to be done. We have already brought about positive changes in the Tax Administration Act which have given us powers to investigate systemic issues and more independence from Sars, among others.

“We continue to travel the length and breadth of the country informing taxpayers about our services. We are also working closely with our government through the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), which is assisting in developing a business case for a cost-effective and independent organisational model,” said Judge Ngoepe.

The launch of the report also coincided with the fifth-anniversary of the establishment of the Office, themed “Five Years of Fairness”. Judge Ngoepe said the OTO was committed to helping ensure balance between SARS’s powers and duties, on the one hand, and taxpayer rights and obligations on the other. 

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