Minutes: SARS Western Cape Operational meeting
26 May 2013
Posted by: Author: SAIT Technical
Source: SAIT Technical
Willie Viljoen welcomed everybody. He apologised for Managers that could not
attend due to Operational reasons.
Willie gave feedback on Visits to various Practitioners
across the region. There have been 13 such visits and further visits will take
place during the coming months. By
developing a better understanding of each other’s operational environments,
visits of this nature will over time assist us to improve relationships and
should also assist practitioners with their interaction with SARS (e.g. using
available channels to the best effect).
Annette (Bellville Branch Manager) gave feedback on issues
raised by tax practitioners regarding appointments. She confirmed that an additional agent or
consultant will be made available for urgent matters, should there be a need. Colin mentioned that it is unacceptable that
appointments are such a struggle. Willie
mentioned that in the longer term there will be a dedicated Office for Practitioners
in the Cape Town area. In the meantime,
we need to ensure that we use the available capacity dedicated to practitioners
effectively. This included working with
the Institutions to highlight visits that can be prevented by making use of
other channels (e.g. e-filing and the PCC mailbox). This will enable branch managers to deal
quicker with urgent issues. Zahir (Cape
Town Branch Manager) said that due to staff constraints, it is difficult to
avail more agents and consultants to man practitioner counters and that by
working together available capacity can be used better. Victor complimented Alvira (the person
dealing with appointments bookings) as she always gives feedback on
appointments and give suggestions where there are openings.
After some discussion, the following have been decided:
- In exceptional instances where an issue is
outside turn-around time and escalations via other channels did not result in a
response, Zahir and Annette can be contacted should it not be possible to get
an appointment within a reasonable time via a normal request.
Both Cape Town and Bellville also make
appointments for VAT registrations (i.e. the VAT queue also now caters for
As indicated above, we will all work together to
reduce unnecessary visits (i.e. in instances where another channel could have
been used to ensure we maximise the impact of available capacity to deal with
more urgent issues. This will be an
ongoing exercise to continuously work towards improving the situation
SARS will circulate a note to the Institutions that they can
circulate to practitioners that will highlight how we can assist each
other. Due to different circumstances in
outlying areas, this will only be applicable to Cape Town and Bellville.
There were issues about calls that are received by clients
or tax practitioners regarding debt collections from SARS, whereby the person
calling put the phone down when realises that he or she is speaking to a tax
practitioner not a consultant. Also the messages that are left on the phone are
very soft and unclear. The concern was
that Tax Practitioners have Power of Attorneys from their clients and they
should be allowed to answer calls on behalf of clients. It was also suggested that the callers should
check scratch pad notes for objections and appeals before making calls to see
what arrangements is in place. Cecil (Call Centre Manager) confirmed that
SARS is utilising some of the Staff members to make such calls to collect
outstanding debts. Cecil also confirmed that
all divisions are making calls nationally.
Due to the fact that in most of these instances these calls are only
made after a number of earlier attempts to get payment failed, the agent may be
calling the taxpayer directly in an attempt to get a response. Colin noted that it is important that agents
should check on the status of the matter before they call, i.e. there may be an
objection regarding an obvious mistake on the assessment or an allocation
problem with a payment. In such instances
there is no debt outstanding.
There was also a concern about the authentication process as
there are so many scams happening and the fact that it is unsafe for their
clients. Willie assured everybody that
no employee of SARS will ever ask for banking details over the phone. The following was also confirmed to the
All calls are recorded
Each call have a case number
Some clients will have more than one case number
due to arrangements not kept.
Authentication is done by the agents or
consultants and they introduce themselves at the beginning of the
It is therefore possible to follow up on any complaint as a
result of these calls provided that the case number can be given. Willie also
mentioned that on the SARS website the clients are warned about scams.
Zahir also said that if a person could not be reached once contacted,
the relevant case goes back into the pool and there is an option if the client
request that he be called back. Cecil
said that he listened to a quite a few calls regarding outstanding Debt and
could not recall that clients were rude or vice versa.
Willie mentioned that deferment arrangements for income tax
debt below R 50 000 can be arranged by agents or consultants at the Call Centre
or Branch Offices. Arrangements for
deferment arrangements for debt in excess of R50 000 are to be dealt with
at the Debt Management Department.
Colin said that Exempt Unit haven’t raised assessments for
months now and it is a huge concern.
Willie said that he will refer it to Ms Hendricks at Exemption Unit for
Feedback from Willie about modernisation
Willie shared a high level overview about upcoming
Modernisation initiatives. This included
SARS will move away from a paper
driven TCC valid for a year. The new
approach will be electronic and real time for each tender. Whilst this approach will do away with the
current TCC valid for a year, it will make it much easier for taxpayers and
practitioners to obtain TCC’s and to manage any issues that prevent a TCC from
being issued better (i.e. details of issues that prevent a TCC from being
issued will be available via the intended electronic interface in real time).
The new form will be dynamic
(i.e. be created in accordance to the needs of the company). It will
therefore be easier to complete. It was also noted that in most
financial statements will have to be attached at the time of
Single registration process
The long awaited single
registration process for all taxes will also be launched in due course. A dynamic application form will allow for a
customised application (covering all applicable taxes) will simplify the registration
More information regarding the above modernisation
initiatives will follow in due course. They
should make interaction with SARS easier and assist in making the relevant
Allocations: Willie said that Allocation problems cannot
be dealt with by SARS without the proper supporting documentation. It was noted that this is sometimes difficult
if the problem relates to older years (taxpayers may not have kept the
documentation). These instances will
have to be managed on a case by case basis.
Using the PCC mailbox: It
was highlighted that Practitioners should clearly highlight the issue/s they
want to receive attention when they make use of this channel. The heading of the request must also be clear
for referral purposes to the various sections.
He also mentioned that this channel cannot be used for submission of
returns or submission of supporting documents.
Meetings with stakeholders:
There is a need to continue with meeting s with the members of the
various institutions. This will be arranged
via the relevant management structures during the coming weeks and months.
DTR issues can be forwarded to D2@sars.gov.za
or firstname.lastname@example.org. DTR less than 20 can be done on E-filing and
more than 20 must be done on E@syfile.
There will be workshops held in future for E@syfile and Dividends
Tax. Bookings can be done at
Tax Administration Bill and Penalties: Colin highlighted a concern regarding the
imposition of penalties in some instances where it is not evident that the
merits of the case were first considered (also instances where all expenses are
disallowed). It was noted that such
instances need to be highlighted for attention and consideration by the
Colin Complemented Mandisa on sending out of all the new
In closing, Willie thanked everybody for availing themselves. He also expressed appreciation for the
constructive spirit during these meetings.
The date for the next meeting will be conveyed in due course.
The meeting adjourned.