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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 from SARS in respect of “practitioner registration” as required by section 240 of the Tax Administration Act.  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 varied aims, SAIT has divided its membership into work classifications and skill designations.

The South African tax profession is divided into various work classifications – each with different needs.  Tax practitioners provide consulting advice and compliance support to external parties.  Practitioners within this classification represent the majority of SAIT members.

Other forms of membership classification fall more in the nature of employees who mainly work directly provide tax support and advice to their employer.  These members can be in-house non-advisory tax staff that provide direct internal support in respect of their employer’s tax obligations as well as government employees and academics dedicated to tax.

Certain forms of membership (i.e. mainly those within the practitioner membership classification) can be further divided into skill designations.  SAIT skill designations represent levels of professional expertise and are formulated in conjunction with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

Tax Practitioner Members (prime)

This form of membership is for those members who are seeking a “practitioner registration” (PR) number with SARS and who provide external advice to independent external parties.  These members typically include members of accounting and legal consulting firms that provide external tax support and advice to independent clients.  Members in this category seek entry into SAIT as their prime professional body membership and list SAIT 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 without reliance on membership from other bodies.

Applicants for SAIT practitioner membership enter SAIT via one of four designations:

·         Master tax practitioner level (NQF Level 9),

·         Tax Advisory (SAIT Tax Professional Apprenticeship Programme; NQF Level 8)

·         General tax practitioner level (NQF Level 8), or

·         Tax Technician level (NQF Level 4/5/6).

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

For the varying detailed entry requirements associated with 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.

Tax Practitioner Affiliate Members

Applicants otherwise qualifying for general tax practitioner status that are already a member of another SARS recognised controlling body may additionally join SAIT as a practitioner affiliate.  This form of membership most commonly includes lawyers and advocates, auditors and accountants working for advisory tax firms (e.g. members of the law society, IRBA and SAICA). 

This “affiliate” membership classification has reduced entry documentation because comparable entry requirements have already been successfully obtained by the applicant when previously joining the other (initial) SARS recognised controlling body.  SAIT membership maintenance requirements may also be reduced to the extent SAIT can rely on criteria associated with the other body.  Members joining SAIT within this classification have the option of shifting SARS practitioner registration from that initial body to SAIT if they so desire.  This shift can be done quickly with the assistance of the SAIT membership department.  Like tax practitioners, these members come in different designations (e.g. general, tax advisory and master).

Transfer Pricing Specialists

This set of members is the latest addition to SAIT and is dedicated to tax practitioners who mainly focus on transfer pricing.  Most of these members consist of graduates from SAIT’s Tax Compliance and Tax Advisory Programmes, but these members may also include seasoned professionals dedicated to Transfer Pricing.  Transfer Pricing Specialists are eligible for a PR number from SARS if these specialists have the requisite years of tax experience required of a General Tax Practitioner.    

In-House Tax Professionals (including Tax Executives)

This form of membership is for those members who are employees of listed and unlisted companies that do not provide tax advice to unrelated 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 often be involved in corporate tax compliance and tax strategic work for the benefit of their company employer (or an entity related to that 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 professionals.

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 classes (and be subject to the same annual tax practitioner membership requirements).

Note:  Corporate Entity Membership:  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 entities 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 individualIn 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. For information regarding this membership kindly contact

Government / Academic Tax Professionals

This form of membership is for government employees and academics engaged in tax.  This form of membership is mainly intended for employees of SARS, the Tax Ombud and the tax teams of National Treasury. However, other government employees are eligible for this type of membership if their work is mainly dedicated to tax issues.  It also intended for tax professors and lecturers at university and educational institutions.

Tax Professionals (Non-Practising)

This form of membership is for tax professionals who do not engage in tax services for a fee nor are designated as an internal tax service provider. This form of membership is often utilised by retirees or persons only tangentially engaged in tax issues.

Foreign Tax Practitioners / 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.

This form of membership is available only for foreign applicants with academic qualifications that would satisfy general tax practitioner status.  Please note that all foreign academic qualifications need to be evaluated to determine if the academic degree is on par with the South African academic degree.  For information regarding this membership kindly contact

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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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