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Membership Annual
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I.          Overview

Membership to a professional service organisation requires more than mere annual payment of fees.  Members must maintain their good standing as professionals in terms of responsible behaviour and technical training.  Association with a professional body demonstrates to clients, potential clients, government and the public at large that the member has a unique set of skills that require special recognition.  Ongoing recognition requires an ongoing commitment to a higher standard in term of skills and ethics.

In terms of SAIT, maintenance of membership falls into three sets of criteria as follows:

  • Criminal clearance,
  • Tax clearance, and
  • Continuing professional development

These requirements are important for recognition in terms of SARS and SAQA.  These requirements are also important for satisfying the inherent principles in which SAIT was founded.  These requirements must be satisfied annually (with the criminal and tax clearance requirements being satisfied upfront during the year of entry).

II.         Criminal clearance

Practitioner members must demonstrate that they have not been involved in financial crimes, crimes relating to dishonesty or be found guilty of professional misconduct.  In order to satisfy these requirements, members must make an annual declaration of the following:

  • The member must declare that he or she has not been removed from a professional body for serious misconduct;
  • The member must declare that he or she has not engaged in theft, fraud, forgery, uttering a forged document, perjury or any offence under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act or any other offence involving dishonesty; and
  • The member must declare that he or she has not been convicted of any tax offense.

These declarations must cover a period of five years preceding the year of declaration.  These declarations are made upon joining SAIT and for each year thereafter while a person is a member.  These requirements stem from section 240 of the Tax Administration Act.

 III.        Tax clearance

Practitioner members must demonstrate that their personal affairs are in order in terms of tax.  Members have traditionally been required to obtain a tax clearance certificate demonstrating that his or her affairs are in order.

If deviations arise, these deviations will not prevent or undermine membership if the member can demonstrate that the deviation stems from a clerical error, refunds potentially owed by SARS or genuine dispute or that the amounts owed by the taxpayer at issue are of little consequence. 

This review of a member’s tax affairs must be made upon joining SAIT and for each year thereafter while a member of SAIT.

In 2016, SARS introduced the “My Compliance” system.  This system can be checked on a continuous basis.  Given this new system, SAIT will either rely on an electronic tax clearance or check tax status via the “My Compliance” system (if the member is in possession of the My Compliance PIN). 

Tax status will be checked upon joining SAIT and once annually for each year thereafter while that person is a member of SAIT.

IV.        Continuous professional development

Members must demonstrate a commitment to maintaining their skills by regularly involving themselves in continuous professional development.  This requirement must be satisfied annually upon the close of each calendar year in which the person is a member of SAIT.  The types of activities qualifying as CPD are described in detail in the “CPD Policy Guide”.  The amount of annual CPD depends on the member’s work classification.

Annual maintenance requirements fall into three general groupings.  Practitioners registered with SARS generally carry the highest level of maintenance criteria.  Other professionals carry a more modest level of maintenance criteria.  Companies and non-practising members carry minimal standards of governance.

1.         Tax Practitioner Members (prime)

Members who have a “practitioner register” number with SARS are subject to the highest level of annual criteria (if listed with SARS via SAIT).  These members are subject to the following annual requirements:

  • An annual criminal declaration,
  • An annual tax clearance declaration, and
  • 30 hours of CPD that includes 15 hours of output verifiable (tier 1) CPD as well as 5 hours of ethics CPD (either verifiable or non-verifiable).

2.         Tax Practitioner Affiliate Members and (Practicing) Tax Professionals Members

Tax Practitioners listed with another professional body (including tax lawyers) are subject to a lower level of SAIT requirements because these members are subject to additional requirements from the other body (i.e. criminal and tax clearances plus additional CPD).  Their CPD requirements also vary depending on whether these members are registered with SARS via SAIT.  Tax advisors (external and in-house), government tax officials and tax academics fall under a reduced level of annual maintenance criteria because these members are not regulated by SARS and this group does not provide tax advice to independent third-parties. 

Tax Practitioner Affiliates and (Practicing) Tax Professionals are subject to the following annual requirements:

  • 15 hours of CPD (out-put-verifiable (tier 1)) if registered with SARS via SAIT, or
  • 15 hours of CPD (input-verifiable (tier 2)) if not registered with SARS or if registered with SARS via a professional body other than SAIT, and
  • No annual criminal declaration and no annual tax clearance declarations.

3.         Corporate sector members and non-practicing members

Corporate entities are not subject to any annual maintenance requirements.  As juristic entities, this form of membership comes without designation so no maintenance criteria is required.  Non-practising members (typically retired) are also free from any maintenance criteria.

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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.

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