ACCOUNTING WEEKLY

The upside of the new tax practitioner criteria

Nicolaas van Wyk

There is an upside to the newly introduced criteria SARS introduced for tax practitioners, argues SAIBA CEO Nicolaas van Wyk. Chief of which is that further rules will result in additional respect for practitioners.  

It’s easy to look at the new criteria for tax practitioners and only see more admin for yourself. The new measures include more tax-focused CPD requirements, all new tax practitioners being required to do a SARS Readiness Training Program, and having to prove their criminal-free status annually.  

However, I believe that we should welcome many of the criteria. For instance, new practitioners who go through the SARS readiness program will be more familiar and comfortable with the SARS systems and, therefore, more efficient and profitable. We certainly want to avoid criminal elements in our profession, even if proving criminal-free status annually is onerous. The Tax Administration Act came into effect and brought with it regulation and respect for our industry. Given that a number of years have passed, it seems apt that we try and make further improvements.  

You may be reading this and thinking that SARS should consider its own affairs before asking practitioners to jump through more hoops. Tax practitioners also rightly complain that SARS doesn’t treat us like partners. There is credence to this, especially when you consider that practitioners help SARS to collect and file returns for billions in tax revenue. 

While this is true, it’s sadly also true that there are bad apples in our industry, a significant portion who are not compliant themselves. I’d argue these practitioners don’t understand the crucial role that they play within our system. Practitioners should be exemplary in their filling. By not doing so, they cumulatively bring risk to the whole industry.  

One way tax practitioners can get more respect from SARS is to weed out these bad apples in our industry. An increase in measures will hopefully make this do some of that weeding and further improve the industry’s image.  

Unlike other professions, like for instance journalism, where anyone can claim to be a journalist regardless of experience, tax practitioners operate in a regulated industry. They have to register with both an RCB and SARS. This means there are a few thousand of us serving millions. An increase in regulations could further reduce competition from bad actors and improve the quality of practitioners. 

SAIBA is here to help you keep up to date with the new regulations. Visit SAIBA Academy’s website to see how we can assist in helping you meet the new compliance criteria.  

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