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Single registration: You and your Tax Practitioner

29 May 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Emmerentia Fischer
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Author: Emmerentia Fischer (SAIT Tax Executive Suite) 

Cyber-crime is a reality that no longer can be ignored.  In order to address this, SARS is in the process of implementing certain requirements and conditions to pin-point responsibility and accountability for submission of tax returns etc.  The regulation of tax practitioners was the first step in the process and the second step is the single registration process that went live on 12 May 2014.  It is the latter that has caused the current problems experienced by tax practitioners whilst trying to assist their clients with their tax affairs. 

SAIT had an urgent meeting with SARS on 16 May 2014 to discuss the inability of tax practitioners to perform certain functions on efiling and to receive services at the SARS branch/call centre level on behalf of their clients.  The reasoning behind the changes were explained by SARS in this meeting and SAIT acknowledges the importance and need for the changes and supports their initiatives, however, it is the implementation thereof that has raised the concerns.

SARS services restored

Tax practitioners should be able to continue with business as usual, except for the online registrations for new entities and the ability to change/amend the permanent information of a client.  Further clarity will be provided in the near future with regard to updating the public officer (registered representative) information on e-filing, as well as the setup requirements of the tax practitioner’s e-filing profile.  

Please note that the tax practitioner is able to register a new taxpayer at a SARS branch.  This includes new VAT registrations.  

The taxpayers must also realise the importance of the power of attorney documentation required by their tax practitioner.  Without proper authorisation from you your tax practitioner will not be able to obtain any service at SARS, especially at this stage.

Accountability

The pin-pointing of accountability for tax matters was brought under the spotlight.  SARS envisaged that the chain of trust from the board of directors to the public officer to the tax practitioner will need to be formally documented by all parties.  This accountability and chain of trust will be strictly enforced by SARS.  Taxpayers will not be able to hide behind their tax practitioner anymore, but will have to acknowledge the fact that they are ultimate responsible for their own tax affairs.  The tax practitioner will be able to assist the taxpayer in managing their tax affairs. 

The pin-pointing of accountability links directly to the request from SARS that public officers will need to visit their nearest SARS branch with the necessary supporting documents to capture the representative details on SARS system.  SARS wants each and every registered representative to be validated at a SARS branch to ensure the identification of the person accountable for the tax affairs of an entity.

Registered Representative

SARS indicated in a media release that all registered entities will be linked with their "registered representative” on SARS system.  Please keep in mind that the tax practitioner is NOT necessarily the registered representative of a company.  

A registered representative is a natural person that is appointed with full rights to act on behalf of another legal entity as it relates to all dealings or interaction with that legal entity.  The following capacities are regarded as authorised representatives:  Public Officer, Main Partner, Main Trustee, Treasurer or Administrators.

The registered representative e.g. the Public Officer will have to go into SARS branch to be validated as the public officer and then linked to the entity that they represent.  Only then will the registered representative be able to grant access to the tax practitioner to gain access to their tax profile on e-filing.

It is still unclear exactly what this process will entail and how it will be implemented.  SARS did however indicate that this validation and linkage will be done in phases.  The how and what is still unclear as SARS acknowledged the fact that it is impractical to expect from each registered representative to validate their identity in person.

Conclusion

Single registration and all that it entails surprised all of us.  The most important thing in this whole process is for SARS to be able to upload the tax practitioner details onto their database.  This is the first step of many in clearing the confusion regarding Single Registration.  A lot is still unclear.

All of us are waiting patiently for SARS to indicate what the next step entails.


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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