What the Ombud can do
- Resolve complaints against SARS relating to “service, procedural and administrative” matters – anything really amounting to poor service
- Report “systemic and emerging” service issues to the Minister of Finance.
What the Ombud can’t do
- Resolve disputes about interpretation of tax laws, liability for tax or the amount of tax assessed
- Review anything already subject to processes for tax objection, appeal or court action (except for related administrative issues)
- Review tax laws or policy (although he will report to the Minister on problems with the practical application of laws).
What you need to do
- First, do not miss deadlines for any objections or appeals that may be necessary – this is vital, so take advice immediately in doubt
- Second, you can only approach the Ombud after first trying to resolve your complaint directly with SARS through its internal complaints processes – follow the procedures set out on the SARS Service Monitoring Office webpage http://www.sars.gov.za/Contact/How-Do-I/Pages/Raise-a-service-issue.aspx
- All else failing, ask the Tax Ombud’s office to send you its “Guide for Complaints” plus a “Taxpayer Complaint Form” (or a “Representative Complaint Form” for taxpayer representatives). Send an email to email@example.com, telephone 0800 662 837 or fax (012) 452 5013. The Ombud’s website, still at date of writing under development, will hopefully provide more useful information and allow submission of documentation online. A target of 15 business days has been set for response to (if not full resolution of) complaints.
Although the Ombud’s findings are recommendations to SARS rather than binding rulings, you now have access to a quick and inexpensive dispute resolution process if you run into a brick wall with SARS – take advantage of it.