SAIT feedback from Tax Ombud briefing on 2014/15 Annual Report
14 October 2015
Posted by: SAIT Technical
Author: SAIT Technical
On the 13th of October 2015, the Office of the Tax Ombud (‘OTO’) held a briefing hosted by the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences to assess the impact of the Tax Ombud’s 2014/15 Annual Report. The event was well attended by tax specialists, academics and judges.
While Judge Bernard Ngoepe, the Tax Ombud, did not talk about the contents of the report per se, he did discuss a number of other issues relevant to the South African tax landscape.
He highlighted the necessity of the public’s involvement in assessing the report for the purpose of providing input on areas of improvement.
The ombud also stated that a culture of co-operative tax compliance needs to be inculcated in our society and that citizens will be more encouraged to pay their taxes if confident that government will use the funds more productively.
The OTO and SARS are currently working on a Memorandum of Understanding (‘MOU’), which will govern the interaction between the organisations. He pointed out, however, that the MOU would not affect his office’s independence.
One important question asked during a panel discussion was whether the OTO should be given more powers. Dr Beric Croome, tax executive at ENSafrica, mentioned that while the US equivalent of a tax ombud has the ability to suspend any action of the IRS pending finalisation of an investigation, we needn’t worry too much about this issue since the international trend is that the powers of a tax ombud are increased over time.
The CEO of the OTO, Advocate Eric Mkhawane mentioned that the statistics reflected in the 2014/2015 report do not reflect the current levels of complaints being dealt with by the OTO as they only cover the 12 months ending March 2015. He further expressed concern at the number of tax practitioners who did not seem to know about the office’s existence.
The Deputy Public Protector, Advocate Kevin Malunga, applauded the work done by the Tax Ombud, adding that his institution used to get quite a number of tax complaints prior to the OTO being established.
Another question asked during the panel discussion was whether the tax ombud feels his office should play more of a role in the legislative amendments pertaining to the Tax Administration Act No. 28 of 2011. The ombud responded in the affirmative, stating that he especially felt that amendments were needed to give his office greater structural independence.
The Tax Ombud’s 2014/15 Annual Report can be accessed here.