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Membership Overview
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Given the complex landscape of the South African tax profession, applicants for SAIT membership have diverse interests.  Applicants for SAIT membership may seek recognition in respect of a SARS practitioner registration number.  Others may seek SAIT membership for a tax designation in terms of general market recognition while still others may seek SAIT membership for access to SAIT benefits.  In order to achieve these aims, SAIT has divided its membership into designations and work classifications. The SAIT designations represent levels of professional expertise and are formulated in conjunction with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).  Work classifications represent SAIT segmented requirements of divergent interests based on the applicant’s current work experience.


Applicants for SAIT membership enter SAIT at one of three levels:

  • Master level,
  • General level, or
  • Technician level.

These levels represent levels of academic and practical experience accumulated in the tax field.  Academic experience is based on officially recognised National Qualifications Framework (NQF) levels achieved.  Practical experience is based on the number of years of tax practice undertaken as confirmed by third parties.  In the case of technical level candidates, further assessments may be required.

For the varying detailed entry requirements for obtaining SAIT membership at the master, general or technician level, see “Membership Entry Criteria”.  The requirements for maintaining SAIT membership are the same for all three levels (with maintenance being adjusted solely for work classifications).


The South African tax profession is divided into various work categories – each with different needs.  Tax practitioners provide consulting advice and compliance support to external parties.  In-house corporate employees are involved in submitting returns on their employer’s behalf.  Government officials create and enforce the tax laws.  Academics teach the tax laws and associated policy concepts.

Provided below is the list of work classifications for membership (each of which is available at master, general and technician levels).  Work classifications have no bearing on entry eligibility.  However, these classifications do have an impact on the annual requirements for maintaining membership, see “Membership Maintenance Criteria”.

  • Tax Practitioner Members (direct and affiliate status)

This form of membership is for those members who have a “practitioner registration” (PR) number with SARS and provide external advice to independent external parties.  These members typically include leading tax members of accounting and legal consulting firms.  Members in this category seek entry into SAIT with SAIT being listed under the SARS system for obtaining their PR number.  This form of membership carries the highest level of maintenance requirements because this form of membership is directly subject to regulation by both SARS and SAQA.

Alternatively, SARS recognition may come from another membership association that qualifies as a recognised controlling body under the Tax Administration Act (section 240A).  This alternate “affiliate” membership classification has reduced maintenance requirements because these members are already subject to annual maintenance requirements from the other recognised controlling body.

  • Tax Lawyer Members

 This form of membership is for tax lawyers who are already members of a South African law society.  Given that these members are effectively viewed as automatically registered with SARS due to their law professional membership, this form of SAIT membership is subject to the same annual maintenance requirements as tax practitioner affiliates.

  • Tax Advisor Members

This form of membership is for those members that provide tax compliance support and tax advice to independent third parties at a fee but have no need for a “PR” number.  These members are typically employees of accounting and law firms.

  • Tax Executives and In-House Staff

This form of membership is for those members who are employees of listed and unlisted companies that do not provide tax advice to external third parties for consideration.  These members will typically be employed by banks, insurance companies, telecommunication companies, mining companies, manufacturing companies, agricultural companies and consumer product companies.  These members will be often be involved in payroll, corporate tax compliance and tax strategic work for the benefit of their company employer.  These members do not require a PR number with SARS and are essentially subject to the same annual maintenance requirements as tax advisors not in possession of a PR number.

The specific role of Tax Executive is reserved for CFOs engaged in tax and Tax Directors.  Other company employees engaged in tax matters are referred to as in-house staff.

It should be noted that some in-house CFOs, Tax Directors and in-house employees may require practitioner registration numbers (often providing some limited form of external advice).  This latter group of in-house members with PR numbers will fall fully within the tax practitioner class (and be subject to the same annual Tax practitioner membership requirements).

  • Corporate Entity Members

This form of membership is for listed and unlisted entities not engaged in the business of providing tax advice to external third parties for a fee.  These members will typically include banks, insurance companies, telecommunication companies, mining companies, manufacturing companies, agricultural companies and consumer product companies.  This form of membership is the only form of membership provided to an entity as opposed to an individual and is accordingly the only non-voting category of members.  In this form of membership, the entities involved are seeking access to SAIT services for the benefit of employees.  This form of membership comes without SARS and SAQA regulation and therefore carries no annual maintenance requirements.

  • Government Tax Professionals

This form of membership is for government employees engaged in tax.  This form of membership is mainly intended for SARS, National Treasury and Tax Ombud employees, but other government employees are permitted to apply.

  • Academic Tax Professionals

This form of membership is mainly for university professors and lecturers that teach one or more tax courses. 

  • Tax Professionals (Non-Practising)

 This form of membership is for tax professionals that have previously engaged in tax but have since ceased active tax practice as an external advisor or as an employee.  To fall within this classification, these persons must be of age 55 or older and are wholly not engaged as a tax advisor.

  • Foreign Tax Professionals

 This form of membership is available for persons of foreign origin (mainly working abroad or temporarily within South Africa).  The annual maintenance requirements associated with this form of membership depends on the intended activity of the foreign applicant.   SAIT will only offer “PR” number status to foreign persons currently holding a South African work permit or a foreign person who previously had the status of a South African citizen or a South African permanent resident.


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.


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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