|Have you checked your tax advisor’s credentials?|
27 May 2014
Tax filing season for individual tax payers opens on July 1, but are all taxpayers aware that their tax practitioner must be registered with a professional controlling body and SARS – if not, they are operating outside the law.
The Tax Amendment Act of 2011 called for the registration of all tax professionals with one of the recognised controlling bodies by July 2013. SARS did allow for low level transgressions in this regard for the 2013 tax season, but the Revenue Authority is expected to strictly enforce this requirement for the 2014 tax season in their effort to weed out rogue tax practitioners, and to ensure that practising tax advisors are appropriately qualified and can be held accountable for their conduct.
As the largest of the recognised controlling bodies for tax practitioners, the South African Institute of Tax Professionals (SAIT) is urging all taxpayers to check the compliance status of their tax practitioner as the first matter of business. “An unregistered practitioner should not be submitting your return as this is a clear breach of the law, and it could expose you to harsh administrative penalties and interest should the returns be submitted late or not at all,” comments Stiaan Klue, Chief Executive of SAIT.
According to Head of Tax Technical at SAIT, Sharon Smulders, ignorance may be bliss but it is not a mitigating factor in failing to be responsible for your tax affairs. “After first checking whether your tax practitioner is registered with SARS and one of the recognised controlling bodies, you should also ask for a contract that clearly defines what is required of you and what is expected of the professional rendering the service,” adds Smulders. “Although, as the taxpayer you are still ultimately liable for any penalties, having a contract will offer some level of recourse should the tax practitioner fail you in any way.”
Earlier this year, the South African Quality Authority (SAQA) announced the registration of the tax professional as an occupational qualification. “In line with SARS’ respected international status, South Africa now enjoys an international standard of qualification for the tax profession,” says Klue. “The taxpayer can take comfort in the international qualification standards of the domestic tax profession and the protection that this wider scale regulation of the industry offers them.”
“The public is invited to establish whether their tax practitioner is compliant and trading legally by contacting SAIT who will check if their practitioner is one of the approximately 17 000 who are registered with SARS and any of the 11 recognised controlling bodies,” comments Klue. A website link –www.thesait.org.za – and call centre number 086 177 7274 have been set up to facilitate this check at no cost.