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Tax Ombud launches Taxpayers Rights Campaign

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The Tax Ombud has launched a new campaign to protect taxpayers’ rights at a time when SA Revenue Services (Sars) is aopting “robust” collection methods to make up for a revenue shortfall that could be as high as R250 billion for the current fiscal year.

The Tax Ombud, Prof. Thabo Legwaila, says his office is determined to deliver on its mandate of protecting taxpayers’ rights as a result of the economic devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We understand the economic challenges faced by individual taxpayers and businesses, and we are here to ensure that tax compliance is not an additional problem or drawback for taxpayers. Taxpayers should continue to be treated fairly and justly, to ease their compliance burden. Tax collection is under pressure, but it should continue to be carried out in an administratively fair manner, with correct and legislated procedures followed, and the service provided in interactions with taxpayers by SARS should not deserve reprehension. We urge and support tax compliance, and the objective of the OTO is to ensure that taxpayers’ rights are not trampled on by the revenue collector,” says Legwaila.

He adds that, in turbulent times, when financial resources are scarce and government depends on taxes, taxpayers can be overwhelmed by the buzz about tax payments, liability and associated matters. “Little attention is placed on the rights of taxpayers, as taxpayers and the revenue collector place these rights on the backburner. But it is precisely at this time that the rights of taxpayers need attention and someone to champion these and ensure they are put in the spotlight. It is also noted that when taxpayers are not aware of their rights, they feel more compelled to pay their taxes than feeling patriotic – which means that morality drops and non-compliance increases,” adds Legwaila.

“The OTO (Office of the Tax Ombud) will do its utmost to protect taxpayers’ rights. Our vision is to strengthen the taxpayer’s trust and confidence in the tax administration system, and our mission is to be an efficient, independent, impartial and fair redress channel for taxpayers. Taxpayers can contact the Office of the Tax Ombud.

The campaign was launched on 1 September 2020. It positions taxpayers as being central to the OTO’s service philosophy. Any taxpayer or accountant who has suffered injustice or poor service from Sras can contact the Tax Ombud here.