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South Africa's New Tax Dispute Resolution Rules — Orbitax Tax News & Alerts

The South African Revenue Service has issued Notice 3146, which contains the rules promulgated under section 103 of the Tax Administration Act, 2011 prescribing the:

  • Procedures to be followed in lodging an objection and appeal against an assessment or a decision subject to objection and appeal referred to in section 104(2);
  • Procedures for alternative dispute resolution;
  • Conduct and hearing of appeals;
  • Application on notice before a tax court; and
  • Transitional rules.

The new rules were originally published in the Official Gazette on 10 March 2023 and are effective from that date, replacing the prior rules published in July 2014. Overall, the new rules are similar to the prior rules, including the same main parts and sections, although there are several changes.

One of the main changes is that the time limit for a taxpayer to object to an assessment has been increased from 30 days to 80 days after the date of assessment or after the date SARS has responded to a request to provide reasons for an assessment in order to formulate an objection. The time limit to request reasons remains 30 days from the date of assessment. With the increase, transitional provisions essentially provide that if the prior 30-day limit for an objection already expired prior to 10 March 2023, the limit is not extended as per the new rules. If they prior 30-day limit had not expired on 10 March 2023, the new rules do apply and the time limit is extended to 80 days.

Other changes include the clarification that if a taxpayer submits an objection within the 80-day period and the objection is considered invalid, the taxpayer will have 20 days to resubmit an objection after receiving a notice of invalidity, without having to apply for an extension. Further, with respect to appeals against an assessment, it is clarified that a taxpayer may appeal on a new ground not raised in an objection unless it constitutes a new objection against a part or amount of the disputed assessment not objected to in the original objection. Changes are also made in regard to the appointment of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) facilitator. This includes the removal of the requirement that a senior SARS official must establish a list of facilitators from which an ADR facilitator may be chosen. Lastly, with respect to procedures in the tax court, it is added that if the tax court makes a decision and SARS does not appeal, SARS must issue an assessment to give effect to the decision of the tax court within a period of 45 days after receipt of a copy of the tax court’s decision by the registrar.