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Business Landscape

Do You Know Your Taxpayer Rights?

The amendments of the Tax Administration Act can help to alleviate your payment burdens. Here’s a look at your rights and obligations.

Reginald Pillay

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There’s an old cliché that life’s only two certainties are death and taxes. You can’t avoid either – no matter how you try. But there are ways to make tax less intimidating.

With the advent of the Tax Administration Act (TAA) which came into effect in October 2012, not only taxpayer rights and obligations but the rights and obligations on the part of SARS in its business of revenue collection is addressed.

Related: How Tax-Free Savings Could Fund Your Child’s Education

Suspension of Payment

These amendment and repeals of the sections have seen a welcomed improvement in taxpayer rights. One of these improvements pertains to the manner and form in which audits are conducted and reported on.

Business owners must take into cognisance that although the TAA provides for an enhancement of taxpayer rights the rights, duties and obligations of SARS cannot be forgotten.

Section 164 of the TAA provides for the Suspension of Payment of a Tax Debt whilst the debt is being reviewed by way of an objection or alternate dispute resolution. This assists the taxpayer if applied correctly. The previous stance by SARS was the “pay now argue later “principal.

Compromise the tax burden

Further assistance is provided in terms of Section 200 to 205 of the Act. This provides for the ability to Compromise the tax burden of the taxpayer on the basis of affordability. This is a highly complex application with many requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to give the taxpayer relief, but the Act does provide for such relief.

One must note that SARS has every intention to work with taxpayers to resolve their disputes and issues. They are not in the business of “closing businesses down “as is often perceived by the public, but need to ensure stable revenue collection to grow the economy of this beautiful country.

The Tax Ombudsman

The Tax Administration Act gave birth to the office of the Tax Ombudsman with the primary purpose to ensure that taxpayer rights both within the TAA and the constitution were being upheld.

Judge Bernard Ngoepe was appointed South Africa’s first Tax Ombudsman. The promulgation of the office of the Tax Ombudsman further confirms that taxpayer rights in terms of South Africa Tax Law is paramount.

The TAA also provides that Tax Practitioners need to be registered with a Recognised Controlling Body or RCB as well as with SARS in order to give advice and services to taxpayers for a fee.

This regulation was adopted to ensure that Tax Practitioners meet strict continual professional development requirements as stipulated by the relevant RCB, as well as a disciplinary process in the unfortunate incidence of misconduct on the part of the tax practitioner. This is change from the previous regime and is a further element within the TAA to protect the taxpayer and their rights.

Related: What Are Tax-Free Investments?

The Tax Administration Act provides many improvements in taxpayer rights. It further provides many channels in which disputes and issues relating to tax matters can be resolved.

The TAA must therefore be seen as a paradigm shift in terms of the way the “man on the street” perceives SARS. One must note Taxpayers Have Rights, and they can execute them.

Managing Director of Ariston Global (Pty) Ltd A strategist and tax specialist with 14+ years of knowledge and expertise in multiple areas of business, finance and tax. Well known and respected for resolving complex tax matters and facilitating relationships with stakeholders of businesses with challenges. Expertise: Tax Legislation, Finance, Relationship Management, Negotiation Education: Diploma in Business Science, Advanced Diploma in Financial Management, Bachelor of Accounting Science. Professional Registration: South African Institute of Tax Professionals, Institute of Directors, Registered Tax Practitioner with the South African Revenue Service, the International Tax Directors Forum.

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Business Landscape

Medium-Sized Businesses Reap Greater Rewards In Tough Times

With prominent industry names being added to business rescue reports almost every week, risking it all in times such as these may sound ludicrous.

Kristly McCarthy

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We’ve said it before: Diversifying, streamlining and investing in new ventures during the tough times is vital to a company’s survival.

Running a successful and diverse business requires resources, passion and an unwavering vision. Poised for continuous growth, a company looks to its team of forward-thinking, calculated risk takers to help prepare and invest for the future, now.

Investing in the future and creating wealth means doing things right – right now. With headlines such as ‘real estate investments in SA increase by R28 billion’ and ‘the industrial sector is the top performer in the SA property market’, it makes sense to put your money where your mouth is in 2018.

Bartlett Construction is one such company. Wayne Bartlett, Contract’s Director for Bartlett Construction says that the company opened its property division several years ago in a quest to gain more market share and use its expertise to cultivate a robust property portfolio.

“Accelerating our economy through investment is key. While there are still high hopes for SA in 2018, applying a long-term strategy to property investment allows you to reap the real rewards in future,” says Wayne.

Related: The Ultimate 101 List Of Business Ideas To Start Your Own Business In South Africa

Acquiring, building and renovating factories and industrial spaces has been a focus for the company over the past few years. “We have all seen the headlines about the industrial sector performing well in terms of property and this is true. It’s truly sad to see some of the big names (in all industries) undergoing business rescue but ultimately, waiting for times to change and focusing on one strategy is never advisable – especially not in a market such as this one” he continues.

Creating a scalable business in times such as these is key. Wayne notes that medium-sized companies have remained notably robust by ensuring just the right amount of resources to remain lean, yet effective.

“The economic downturn has had significant impact on both big and small companies. Companies with high overheads, many employees and massive contracts on the line have been most affected. Small companies, on the other hand, with very little business and resources who rely on business from big and medium businesses have also taken a knock.”

Established more than half a century ago and with Wayne having 30-plus years of experience in the industry, it’s fair to say that he has seen it all. “What’s helped our company through the years is remaining scalable and finding balance. Times are tough, and everyone is feeling the pinch – success is dependent on how the industry performs but we try our best to never over invest or under invest; we diversify whilst maintaining high-levels of competency in our current projects, we are fair and reward long-standing, loyal employees who give us that competitive edge and we adapt according to industry and client needs.” Wayne concludes.

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Business Landscape

How To Leverage Partnerships, Industry Associations & Endorsements

Nobody can succeed in business entirely on their own without personal as well as professional support. ‘Signing up’ can be a deciding factor in the growth of a company, says the Proudly SA CEO.

Eustace Mashimbye

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Leverage by association can be a great business tool. Hitching your wagon to an industry associated body, joining a local chamber of commerce, or seeking a respected contemporary’s endorsement can change your brand recognition struggle to an opportunity. Becoming part of a whole new entity can be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

How to choose your partner or affiliation?

You know the expression ‘Two heads are better than one’ so you should choose a partner or affiliation that exposes you to twice as big an audience as you can reach alone, preferably with a different customer base. Find an association that fits with your own business ethos and has the same goals as you, otherwise you will find you are working against each other rather than complementing each other.

What do you stand to gain?

By association you will appear in listings, on websites, you will be invited to related events where you can network your socks off, and in some cases, doors will automatically be opened for you. Visibly aligning yourself with an organisation that can propel your brand and/or product into the market place should be grabbed with both hands.

What does the partner stand to gain?

Your relationship with a partner should be symbiotic, benefitting from each other’s contacts as well as a platform for sharing ideas.

Related: How Do I Register A Partnership And What Documents Are Involved?

What are my responsibilities towards the other party in the relationship?

Perhaps you will have to add a logo to your marketing collateral or packaging, perhaps you will have to comply to standards even higher than those you set for yourself. Perhaps you will have to pay subs or a small joining fee, or even a large joining fee, so you need to decide what you can afford and when.

But you must view the relationship in a positive light even if it involves redesigning artwork or re jigging your material. There is no point in ‘signing up’ if you’re not prepared to share your brand affiliation with your customers and suppliers. It’s like getting married and refusing to wear a ring.

How long should I sign up for?

You really should take a long-term view of any marketing relationship. Your hook up may take time to filter down into the market place, you may have a lot of pre- relationship stock that doesn’t have the logo of your new partner on it, so you will need to give a fair chance to the whole exercise.

What happens if one party brings the other company into disrepute by association?

No one wants to be brought down if someone or something with which you are closely associated is found not to be quite as ethical or honest as you. Don’t forget this isn’t a JV, it’s a brand partnership, and so as long as you are operating separately, you will always be able to distance yourself from any scandal should the need arise. (But hopefully you chose your brand affiliation well!) , but by and large, being the single part of a whole can only be beneficial when you’re starting to build your brand.

How does using the Proudly South African ‘tick’ logo fit in?

The Proudly SA logo is the mark of an authentically locally grown, manufactured or produced item or service that is of proven high quality. It can be leveraged in the same way as any other brand affiliation and can assist in providing access to market and building trust with your buyers and suppliers.

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Business Landscape

The Differences Between A Supplier Relationship, Agency And Distributor

To a large extent I suppose it depends on industry, the vision of the business and how quickly you wish to scale.

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw

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Many businesses reach the point where they have to consider in which way to best expand its market share and reach. In many industries, a customer and supplier arrangement are sufficient, but in others different arrangements such as agency or distribution are preferred.

So, the question is – what is best and when?

Well, to a large extent I suppose it depends on industry, the vision of the business and how quickly you wish to scale.

1. Supplier / Customer

This is a typical arrangement of a willing buyer willing seller. In most instances this is the typical way in which business is run or at the very least to a large degree this is the starting point. Clients or customers are typically engaged by agreement usually a form of terms and conditions or perhaps even an agreement detailing credit.

Related: Supplier Agreements – Do I Need A Written Agreement?

2. Agency

An agency agreement could either relate to an individual or an organisation. This means an individual or a business could represent the supplier of the goods or services and earn a commission or remuneration for their efforts to sell the goods or services.

In this context an individual is often referred to as a “rep”, which is a typical arrangement for wholesalers marketing products to retailers.  In many instances these agreements do not constitute employment contracts and further, the agent does not buy and on-sell the products.

The agent usually refers orders to the supplier and therefore is cost effective for both parties and further limits risk. This also means that the supplier benefits from a relatively low input cost and commitment but increased sale. An important portion of an agreement such as this is that the agent has certain powers in representing the supplier.  It is therefore of crucial importance that the agent’s powers are constructed in such a way as to serve the needs and best interests of both parties.

3. Distribution

A crucial difference between agency agreements and distribution is twofold – one: that the distributor does not have any power of representation as an agent would typically have. Secondly, that the distributor usually purchases the goods / products from the supplier and then stores, transports and sells, as the case may be. In most cases these agreements are confined to goods.

It is therefore important for the business to assess what would sell the most products or services in the shortest space of time. Then to seek professional advice to construct the most suitable agreement.

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