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SARS barge into my office and seized all my documents and computers! What are my rights?

by , 29 July 2015
'SARS officials and police officers barge into my office premises with a search and seizure warrant.

They allege I've failed to declare income of R3 million! I plea with SARS officials, insisting that I've declared and submitted all income and tax returns.

SARS ignores me and continues to search through my entire office. It eventually leaves with boxes filled with my business records, computers and hard drives.

Help! What do I do? What are my rights?'

**************Recommended for you!*****************

The key to getting through a SARS audit is preparing for it before your unwelcome guests arrive

That's why we compiled How to survive a SARS tax audit. 

This guide reveals audit secrets like:
  • What risk areas SARS' auditors are interested in
  • Four Expenses SARS will target during an audit
  • What SARS will consider about your transfer duty
  • The nine risky strategies used to avoid tax liability
  • 11 Questions you'll be asked about your cash flow

And so much more…

I'm sure you can see how tips like these could reduce the headache of a SARS audit significantly.


This is a real situation that one of my readers experienced. So decisions made in these cases form part of rules to follow in similar situations. So it's wise to know your rights and what SARS can and can't do.

So what can you learn from the above case:

Know your rights!

  • If a SARS official arrives at your premises to perform a search and seizure ALWAYS ask to see their SARS official identity card first. No card means no entry – regardless of a warrant issued or not.
  • The Tax Admin Act specifically states under section 61(1) that 'A SARS official...' must conduct the search, and therefore section 8(3) should take precedence over any warrant shown to you.
  • If they can't prove they're a SARS official, then they aren't allowed to carry out the search in terms of section 61!
  • Once they positively identify themselves as SARS officials, ask to see the search and seizure warrant.
If the SARS official has a warrant, make sure it contains the following:
Checklist: A warrant must contain the following:

  • A detailed description of the reason for the warrant;
  • The name of the person alleged to have committed the offence;
  • The details of the premises SARS will search; and
  • Proof that SARS will find the relevant material on the premises. A description of why SARS thinks the information or documentation is at the premises will be included.

If all of these are on the warrant, you can grant the official access to your premises.
If not, you have the choice to allow the SARS officials access to your property.

If they enter without your permission, SARS is acting against your constitutional right and you may sue SARS in the high court. If this happens to you, you can communicate to the SARS officials you have a constitutional right to deny them access.

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How to make yourself invisible to SARS

The key to reducing how much tax you pay is staying off SARS' radar.

SARS conducted 1.8 million audits. It's added 100s of new tax collectors and auditors to its payroll and each one has his own collection targets to meet. This means two things:

1.        If you're not compliant, your chances of an audit this year has just doubled, and
2.        You will pay more in penalties.

But I have a perfectly legal way for you to reduce your risk.

But still... knowing your rights and insisting that SARS honours them - is only ONE battle to win in reducing your tax burden.
And that's EXACTLY why I want to get this information to you today!

Read on how to make yourself invisible to SARS


The SSMO will help you if you've been unsuccessful in resolving matters with your local SARS branch.

SSMO will assist you in the following concerns:

  • Delays in processing returns;
  • Failure in providing a reason in adjustments; and
  • Conduct and attitude of SARS staff.

But you must follow this three step procedure or SSMO will send you back to your SARS branch.

1. Raise the issue in writing, by phone or fax with the branch office.
2. If this has failed, contact your local Call Centre to assist. The agent will register your complaint and provide you with a service request number. Then a consultant/manager will try to assist you and handle your complaint.
3. If you have not achieved a satisfactory response within a reasonable time, you can ask the SSMO to look into the issue.

So before you take legal action approach SARS first. Present your case to SARS with your evidence in support that its actions are incorrect, unfair and unlawful. SARS will consider their actions when in doubt or proven wrong.

P.S. Your solution to the VAT pop-up letter lies in a simple e-Report: That dreaded SARS Vat pop-up letter ANTIDOTE. Click here to learn more. 

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