South African tax complaints skyrocket

The South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) 2022/2023 annual report reveals that tax complaints more than doubled over the past year.

In the 2020/2021 financial year, the revenue service received 34,327 complaints. It increased to 61,677 in 2021/2022 and 115,833 in the 2022/2023 financial year.

SARS’s Complaints Management Office (CMO) received 114,157 complaints, and the Office of the Tax Ombud (OTO) received 1,697 complaints.

The top five complaints relate to refunds, audits, returns, assessment disputes, and tax clearance certificates.

Concerns were raised over the Revenue Service’s poor performance when it came to resolving complaints in a timely manner.

SARS said only 30.19% of complaints were finalised within the turnaround time, while 69.81% were finalised outside the turnaround time.

SARS blamed two things for not meeting the desired performance standards on OTO cases –

  • Taxpayers go directly to the OTO, which only gives SARS a turnaround time of 15 days.
  • The types of cases escalated are of a complex nature, including profile hijacking, disputes and appeals. These cases are excluded from the 15-day turnaround time target.

It also appeared that as much as these cases are complex, they are very old – some over two years.

The reasons why these cases are not resolved quicker include a backlog in dealing with cases, balancing new and old inventory, and mismanaging inventory.

SARS said there are also no updates of notes on the case management system and interdependency challenges.

One suggestion to remedy the situation includes interdependency challenges addressed through interdependency meetings.

SARS further wants to address the backlog, actively manage the inventory, and update the case management system.


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