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News & Press: TaxTalk

SAIT: A Haven for Tax

01 August 2007   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Prof. Lynette Olivier and Stiaan Klue
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SAIT: A Haven for Tax

The South African Institute of Tax Practitioners(SAIT) was recently constituted as a non-profit professional body for tax professionals. SAIT has now joined forces with TAXtalk magazine, appointing it as the official journal of the Institute.TAXtalk talked to Prof. Lynette Olivier and Stiaan Klue about the new Institute and what their immediate plans are for SAIT.

The main aim of SAIT is to promote the interests of tax practitioners and the tax profession in South Africa.How do you envisage doing this?

The Institute will function in the same way as other professional bodies in South Africa such as the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA),the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants(ACCA), the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB)and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).As a professional body, SAIT will represent tax professionals at various forums like, for example, the Fasset Seta regarding quality assurance of training and SARS regarding operational issues raised by tax practitioners.

According to SARS’s Budget Tax Proposals2007/2008, tax practitioners play an important role in the administration of fiscal legislation, but bear limited responsibility for the advice and assistance they provide.Will SAIT remedy this situation?Firstly, there is a difference between the Institute and the proposed Independent Regulatory Board:The proposed Independent Regulatory Board will be established by the Tax Practitioner Act (currently in draft) and will function completely independently from SAIT.The Board will play the role of regulator with its foundation in legislation.SAIT is a professional body serving its membership, albeit having a similar primary objective, that of upholding the integrity of the tax profession.

SAIT is in the process of drafting its code of conduct which will be approved by SAIT’s board in November.All members will have to adhere to the code and any member who does not act professionally will be disciplined accordingly.This will definitely ensure that tax practitioners take responsibility for services and advice provided to taxpayers.

SAIT will place great emphasis on training, targeting mainly the lower levels within the tax profession.Are there any plans in this regard?

Currently there are in the region of 17 000 tax practitioners registered at SARS, 9 000 of whom do not belong to a professional body. Professional bodies usually require a formal academic qualification with relevant practical experience from a person to be eligible for membership.This means that 9 000 tax practitioners may not necessarily have any acade practitioners, on the other hand, provide opinions or advice - in itself driving the necessity for various categories of membership.SAIT currently provides for six levels of members’ qualifications and experience and is investigating the possibility of allocating competencies to certain levels.This will ensure that members only provide professional services in which they are competent.

Members will be able to progress from one tier to the next as they gain more qualifications and experience,serving as a motivation to study further and increase their professional competence.This tiered model will also motivate practitioners to develop towards levels of best practice.

What is SAIT’s envisaged relationship with SARS?

SAIT is an independent professional body in its own right, with the objectives to serve the interests of its members and the tax profession.The Institute will always be independent from any other organisation,including SARS. The Institute and SARS, however,do have certain similar objectives with regard to, for example, addressing operational issues experienced by practitioners.In these circumstances SAIT and SARS will, together with SAICA and SAIPA, meet to discuss the concerns raised by practitioners and practical experience in taxation, which is problematic for the administration of the tax system.The Institute will focus on those practitioners to assist them with training and education.

There are existing bodies to which tax professionals can belong such as SAIPA, ACCA, ICB and SAICA.
How will SAIT differ from these?

SAIPA, ICB, CIMA, ACCA and SAICA are all professional bodies serving the accounting profession.SAIT will focus only on tax professionals, providing specific benefits to individuals, specialising in tax, inline with international best practice.Australia also has a dedicated professional body for tax agents, the Taxation Institute of Australia.Amongst other benefits,SAIT will provide its specialist members with advice and opinions on technical issues in taxation, assistance with continuing professional development (CPD),provide them with a bi-monthly tax journal, a weekly newsletter and updates on changes in tax legislation that the accounting bodies do not necessarily provide to accountants.

SAIT provides for a tiered recognition model for membership, based on six levels. Why is it necessary to distinguish between different levels of tax practitioners?

The Institute recognises that there should be a tiered model for recognition of tax practitioners.This is based on the fact that some practitioners carry out compliance work only, such as completing and submitting various tax-related returns to SARS.Other practitioners, on the other hand, provide opinions or advice - in itself driving the necessity for various categories of membership.SAIT currently provides for six levels of members’ qualifications and experience and is investigating the possibility of allocating competencies to certain levels.This will ensure that members only provide professional services in which they are competent.

Members will be able to progress from one tier to the next as they gain more qualifications and experience,serving as a motivation to study further and increase their professional competence.This tiered model will also motivate practitioners to develop towards levels of best practice.

What is SAIT’s envisaged relationship with SARS?

SAIT is an independent professional body in its own right, with the objectives to serve the interests of its members and the tax profession.The Institute will always be independent from any other organisation,including SARS.The Institute and SARS, however,do have certain similar objectives with regard to, for example, addressing operational issues experienced by practitioners.In these circumstances SAIT and SARS will, together with SAICA and SAIPA, meet to discuss the concerns raised by practitioners.

Where do you picture SAIT to be in one year from now?

The main focus for the following year is to develop a learnership (articles) in taxation.This will ensure a specific route to practically train tax practitioners in the workplace.The Institute is also currently in the process of investigating the possibility of establishing a relationship with the Taxation Institute of Australia.The aim is to ensure that South African tax professionals are recognised internationally.

Source: By Prof. Lynette Olivier and Stiaan Klue (TaxTALK)


WHY REGISTER WITH SAIT?

Section 240A of the Tax Administration Act, 2011 (as amended) requires that all tax practitioners register with a recognized controlling body before 1 July 2013. It is a criminal offense to not register with both a recognized controlling body and SARS.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS TO REGISTER

The Act requires that a minimum academic and practical requirments be set to register with a controlling body. Click here for the minimum requirements of SAIT.

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