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SARS auditors can arrive at your business unannounced - make sure you know your rights

by , 22 August 2014
If you think you'll get notification every time SARS auditors want to come to your business to audit you, you're mistaken.

The introduction of the Tax Administration Act (TAA) a few years ago changed things. SARS can now come to your company unannounced.

So if, for example, SARS identifies you as a major risk and gets a court order from the judge of a High Court, allowing it to arrive unannounced, it can.

While SARS has the power to do this, it doesn't mean you don't have rights. The TAA protects you as well - so make sure you know your rights so you can enforce them if SARS arrives unannounced at your door step.

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SARS auditors can only do THIS when they arrive unannounced

If SARS officials arrive unannounced, they can only conduct an inspection to determine:
  • Your identity as the person occupying the premises;
  • If you, as the person occupying the premises, are registered for tax; or
  • If you're keeping the prescribed records for tax purposes. SARS can't use this provision to actually audit your records. It can only check if you're keeping records.
So what are your audit rights?

Here are your rights when SARS auditors arrive unannounced

An unannounced visit doesn't mean SARS has a right to audit your records on the spot.

The Practical Tax Loose Leaf Service says, in some cases, SARS auditors will ask for additional documentation and records, other than those requested in their letter of notification and intent to audit. As this is an additional request, you have the right to a reasonable time to furnish these documents and records.

In fact, if auditors have questions or want more information, they must put it in writing, so you can respond in writing.

You also have a right to instruct your staff NOT to respond orally to any questions that the auditors ask. This prevents misunderstanding.
It also documents the proceedings and timelines so there's a paper trail.

Now that you know your rights when it comes to unannounced visits by SARS, protect yourself.

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