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Minutes: SARS Western Cape Operational meeting

26 May 2013   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Author: SAIT Technical
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Source: SAIT Technical

Opening

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). 

Appointments

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Both Cape Town and Bellville also make appointments for VAT registrations (i.e. the VAT queue also now caters for pre-arranged visits). 
  3. 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.

Debt Collection  

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 Practitioners that:

  • 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 conversation. 

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. 

Exemption Unit  

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 follow up.

Feedback from Willie about modernisation

Willie shared a high level overview about upcoming Modernisation initiatives.  This included the following:

Tax Clearances (TCCs)

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). 

IT14’s

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 instances financial statements will have to be attached at the time of submission. 

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 process.  

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 processes better.

General

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 datachannel@sars.gov.za.  DTR less than 20 can be done on E-filing and more than 20 must be done on E@syfile.

Workshops:  There will be workshops held in future for E@syfile and Dividends Tax.  Bookings can be done at mhansen@sars.gov .za.

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 relevant Department.

Colin Complemented Mandisa on sending out of all the new registration forms.

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.  

Comments...

Kgashane R. Phaleng says...
Posted 29 May 2013
we also need the same meeting here in Polokwane, Limpopo for us to raise issues with sars

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