Tax Documents on Black Table
Tax Documents on Black Table. Representational Image. Nataliya Vaitkevich/

Tax Ombud Yanga Mputa has cautioned citizens that even though the office is obliged to provide people assistance with their tax complaints against the South African Revenue Service (SARS), it will not let businesses dodge their responsibilities.

During the 10-year anniversary celebration of the department, Mputa said on Sunday that the office will ensure that taxpayers and tax practitioners get a "simple and impartial" platform to "seek a resolution for a service, procedural or administrative dispute they might have already unsuccessfully tried to resolve through SARS's complaints management channels," SA News reported.

SARS is responsible for collecting taxes -- including income tax, value-added tax (VAT), corporate tax, customs duties, excise duties, and other duties and levies -- in the country and also oversees, if necessary.

Mputa explained that her department played a "unique" role in taxpayer complaints resolution and was aligned with the Public Protector, which was one of six independent state institutions in South Africa to defend and support democracy.

The celebration took place under the theme of "10 Years of Making Taxpayers' Rights Matter," during which the Tax Ombud pointed out before the formation of the department, there was no platform for taxpayers to complain about SARS.

Mputa -- the first female Tax Ombud in South Africa -- was appointed on July 1, and will serve in the position for the next five years. Previously, Judge Bernard Ngoepe served as Tax Ombud.

"The OTO was not a 'nice to have' but a prerequisite institution that has positively contributed to improving our country's tax administration system. Our intervention has saved taxpayers millions of rands, homes and businesses, to mention a few," Mputa said. "However, we are not oblivious that we would not have achieved all this without our stakeholders."

"Defending taxpayer rights is central to a tax system that follows a voluntary compliance/self-assessment tax system," she added. "In a voluntary compliance/self-assessment tax system, if taxpayers believe they are treated or may be treated arbitrarily and impulsively, they may mistrust the tax system and be less likely to comply with the law voluntarily."

Tax Ombud emphasizes on earning taxpayers' confidence in the fairness and integrity of the tax system so that they will automatically comply.

Talking about the first-ever Compilation of Taxpayers' Rights, Entitlements and Obligations published in South Africa in 2022, Mputa said this document aimed to highlight taxpayers' rights and obligations, as it mentioned various laws, including the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and the Tax Administration Act, 2011.