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South Africa’s first compilation of taxpayers’ rights finalised

08 April 2022 The Office of Tax Ombud

Tax Ombud Judge Bernard Ngoepe published the Compilation of Taxpayers' Rights, Entitlements and Obligations. He expressed gratitude to all stakeholders who heeded calls for public comments on the draft Compilation released two months ago.

"The publication of the Compilation bodes well for the country's tax administration system, especially in promoting awareness about taxpayers' rights. We are pleased that many of our stakeholders in and outside the tax sphere made valuable contributions to this document. It is the first document of its kind in the country, and I am confident that it will greatly improve the awareness of taxpayer rights and their exercise."

Judge Ngoepe reiterated that the Compilation does not replace, supersede or overrule any legislation, common law principles or procedures relating to tax administration but seeks to serve as a consolidated point of reference on the rights, entitlements and obligations of taxpayers in the country. The Compilation will be updated annually in line with any amendments to the Tax Administration Act (TAA), and Judge Ngoepe urged taxpayers to familiarise themselves with its content; they may also consult experts to enforce their rights.

The Compilation is not an enforceable Bill of Rights but merely a compilation of principles contained in various documents, including the Constitution, tax legislation and other government documents.

Some of the taxpayer rights and entitlements listed in the Compilation include:

• The right of access to information;
• The right to receive quality and timely service from SARS;
• The right to a fair, unbiased and just tax system;
• The right to privacy and confidentiality;
• The right to retain representation;
• The right to complain without fear of victimisation; and
• The right to dispute/challenge assessments/ decisions.

Judge Ngoepe made the point that the cornerstone of a fair and just tax administration system was a healthy balance between the powers and duties of the revenue authority on the one hand and taxpayer rights and obligations on the other. "The Compilation seeks to contribute to that balance by serving as a single, consolidated reference point regarding taxpayers' rights, entitlements and obligations. We call on our Government and other relevant authorities to ensure that an enforceable Taxpayer Bill of Rights becomes a reality, and not just a dream."

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