Tax disputes: don't be a pushover

11 November 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202021194

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TAXPAYERS and businesses are under increased pressure as a result of the economic downturn and impact of COVID-19. On the flipside, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is also under pressure to meet targets.

That’s according to Nico Theron, tax expert and author of the newly released Practical Guide to Handling Tax Disputes published by LexisNexis South Africa, who said a possible outcome of this double-sided scenario is an increased number of tax disputes in the near future, with SARS attempting to secure revenue and taxpayers wanting to reduce their tax burden.

“Tax disputes have become increasingly complex. There is no single detailed analysis of the rules and as a result there seems to often be various interpretations as to what the rules actually are, which makes for increasingly complex outcomes.”

Tax disputes: don't be a pushover
Nico Theron

In some cases, this lack of clarity results in SARS misinterpreting the rules and procedures and this, according to Theron, is where taxpayers need a deeper understanding of what remedies are available to them.

“In many cases taxpayers do not understand the various remedies they have when they are not happy with an assessment or decision by SARS, and they give up the claim without launching a challenge, abandon their challenge to soon or challenge the assessment or decision incorrectly or inadequately,” he said.

The Practical Guide to Handling Tax Disputes spells out taxpayer options, providing fair opportunity for taxpayers to fight their case and assisting in preventing the collection of taxes and penalties that are not due. This guide offers various grounds for taxpayers to defend themselves against SARS, the remedies available and tactics for dealing with the pay-now-argue-later rule that SARS typically enforces.

It includes relevant case law and analyses of rules covering tax dispute resolution, options available to taxpayers if SARS fails to abide by the rules, templates and dispute resolution forms.

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