Just because SARS is auditing you, doesn’t mean you don’t have rights! Know what they are so you can enforce them

43984, 07 Nov. 2014

Tags: sars, sars audit

For most business owners, an email from the taxman about an audit sends shivers down their spines.
Unfortunately this fear causes business owners to surrender and SARS walks all over them. They don’t question anything because they believe SARS is all powerful and is always right.
While we can’t deny that SARS is a powerful body, it doesn’t mean you have to forfeit your rights just because it’s auditing you.
The great thing about our country’s tax laws is that although they give SARS the power to audit you, they regulate this. This means your rights are protected too!
Keep reading to find out what your rights are when SARS audits you so you can enforce them.
Here are your four audit rights
#1: You have the right to get reasonable notice from SARS, in writing.
The notice must indicate when the audit will take place and what type of audit SARS will conduct.
Normally, it will also give you an extensive list of documents you must put together for the auditors, as well as how far back the auditors will go in your records (usually between three and five years, ending with the most recent tax year assessed).
#2: When you get notice of the audit, you have a right to send SARS a letter asking for copies of the identification cards of the auditor and the team leader or line manager.
Once you have the copies of the cards, send SARS another letter and ask for clarity on the following:
  • Under what Act and what provisions you must provide the information it wants; and
  • What the purpose of the audit is.
#3: You have the right to ask for a copy of the risk analysis report or a copy of the audit file. If SARS rejects your request, lodge an internal appeal in terms of Section 74 of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
#4: Lastly, you have the right to withhold information from SARS until the process of the internal appeal is complete. You can also go to the High Court by lodging an urgent application to prevent SARS from taking any action against you.
The bottom line: SARS isn’t above the law. All its activities and decisions must be constitutional even when it conducts an audit. If they aren’t, you have the right to challenge the action or decision in the Constitutional Court. So make sure you enforce your rights now that you know what they are.

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