With the 2018 SARS filing season less than a month away, we would like to guide South African Tax Payers on how to choose their tax practitioner. Do not merely go and grab the first one you meet who says he knows how to file a tax return, it might end up costing you more than just his/her fee. Here are some pointers by Chris Hattingh, Managing Director of Hattingh Tax Specialists (Pty) Ltd, on how to choose your tax practitioner:
Always make use of a Registered Tax Practitioner
In 2014, the South African Revenue Service(SARS) released new requirements that all Tax Practitioners must be registered with both SARS and a SARS recognised Controlling Body. Please see the following extract from the SARS website:
The Tax Administration Act (2011) has been amended requiring tax practitioners to register with a recognised controlling body, and with SARS. This change is intended to give a framework that will make sure that tax practitioners are properly qualified and that a mechanism is available, both to taxpayers and SARS, to address misconduct. In order to qualify as a recognised controlling body an organisation must either be:
- listed in section 240Aof the Tax Administration Act or
- or be recognised by SARS.
SARS is expected to “Recognise” Controlling Bodies for tax practitioners that provide advice with respect to the application of a tax Act or complete returns if the body remains relevant and effective on their requirements stipulated on the TAAct.
Always ensure that you make use of a registered tax practitioner, you have the right to ask your prospective practitioner if he/she has a SARS Practise Number and a membership number from his or her controlling body. You have no recourse if you allow an unregistered person to file your annual tax return on your behalf.
We as Hattingh Tax Specialists (Pty) Ltd are registered with both SARS and with SAIT as our SARS recognised Controlling Body. This offers great piece of mind to all of our existing and potential clients.
Always ask your prospective practitioner about his/her experience. Don’t worry too much about fancy qualifications and abbreviations next to their names. The proof is in the pudding and you want the peace of mind that the person handling your tax affairs knows what they are doing.
We at Hattingh Tax Specialists (Pty) Ltd has been in the tax field since 2005 and has got extensive knowledge of the South African Tax System as well as all the SARS filing channels.
Tax practitioners worth their salt will ask you a range of questions in order to determine your tax situation. Based on your answers he/she will know exactly what documents will be required in order to file your tax return. As a general note, always ensure that you have the following documents handy:
- Employer provided IRP5;
- Medical Aid Tax Certificate and/or copies of receipts of medical expenses;
- Annuity Contribution Certificate(If applicable);
- SARS Travel Log Book(If applicable).
We at Hattingh Tax Specialists (Pty) Ltd will ask a certain set of questions in order to determine what documents will be required in order to file your tax return.
Tax Return Fee
Rather than asking how much will it cost, ask how does he/she calculate their fees. Most professionals base their fees on the complexity of your tax return and the time that it would take for preparation and submission. If you have a travel allowance, earn income from trade, business or rental property you should expect to pay a little more than others. Never make use of a tax practitioners that calculates their fees on a percentage of the tax refund that they can get you, this is not recommended by SARS. SARS argues that this encourages practitioners to lie and claim back more money than is actually due and leads to unethical practises.
We at Hattingh Tax Specialists (Pty) Ltd will charge based on the complexity of your individual tax situation. We charge a flat hourly rate or part thereof that will include the preparation and submission to SARS. Please note that additional fees may apply in situations where you are selected for verification and/or audit by SARS.
How will you file my tax return?
All the best tax professionals file their client’s returns electronically, either using SARS eFiling or specialised tax software. It is best to always have you returned filed electronically for the following reasons:
- Saves time to file via eFiling as most of the processes are automated and your return will is most cases be assessed straight after submission. Should you be due for a refund this will thus also be paid to you faster;
- eFiling keeps your return online which helps with record keeping too.
We at Hattingh Tax Specialists (Pty) Ltd makes use of specialised tax software as well as SARS eFiling in order to submit your return on time, every time.
How can I get hold of you?
During the tax filing season you will be able to find many “tax professionals” in front of the SARS offices willing to help you for a fee. Come the end of filing season they all disappear into a black hole and are nowhere to be found when you have questions or problems. It’s best to choose a professional who will be there for you if you have any trouble with SARS later. It is best to only make use of registered tax practitioners and have an online presence. The bigger their presence, the less likely they are to skip town before you need them.
I trust that this newsletter will aid the South African Taxpayer in making an informed decision when it comes to choosing their Tax Practitioner.
Please note that the 2017/2018 Tax Season will open on the 1st of July 2018 and will close at the end of November 2018. Please contact us via our website, telephone or email in order to assist with all your tax needs.