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News & Press: Opinion

New Requirements for Tax Practitioners

03 July 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: GT.co.za
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Author: GT.co.za

In recent years, the corporate world has shifted to embrace overall good governance practices. In line with this, tax practitioners will now be regulated in the same way as other registered professionals, such as auditors, lawyers and the medical professionals.

The Tax Administration Act (TAA) requires all tax practitioners – everyone who provides tax advice or completes returns for a fee – to register with a recognised controlling body* before 1 July 2013. This is in addition to being registered as a tax practitioner with SARS. This move, which is believed to be the first phase of the regulation, is expected to develop the tax advisory industry by building its professional image and through professional support provided by these controlling bodies. The second phase will involve the establishment of an independent regulatory board for tax practitioners.

While taxpayers should never pay more tax than is required, there will always be grey areas, especially with SARS’ changing requirements and increased capacity to identify discrepancies. A professional tax adviser can provide the taxpayer with legitimate strategies to steer clear of grey areas, pay the correct taxes and remain tax compliant.Another key consideration is that where SARS raises additional assessments on particular aspects of a taxpayers affairs, the taxpayer may be able to have any penalties waived if it received formal advice on the said transaction from a tax practitioner that is appropriately registered and certain other criteria is met.

Investing in a long-term, transparent relationship with a qualified professional tax practitioner can clearly save taxpayers energy, time and money. The new registration requirements will provide taxpayers with further assurance that their tax position will be managed by bona fide, registered tax advisers, who operate within a legal framework that balances tax obligations with taxpayer rights.

A number of controlling bodies were recognised automatically in terms of the Act and if your tax adviser is a registered with these bodies, no additional registration is required.

These bodies include:

  • Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors – IRBA
  • General Council of the Bar of South Africa, Bar Councils and Societies of Advocates referred to in Section 7 of the Admission of Advocates Act, 1964
  • Law Societies established in terms of Chapter 3 of the Attorneys Act, 1979.

Alternatively, SARS also recognises professional affiliation with these controlling bodies:

  •  Institute of Accounting and Commerce (IAC)
  • South African Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA)
  • South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)
  • South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA)
  • South African Institute of Tax Practitioners (SAIT)

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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