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Seven questions you need to ask about SARS searches and seizures
There are seven questions you need to have the answers to when it comes to SARS seizures. These are:
1) What is a search and seizure and why does SARS have this power?
2) What are the different types of searches SARS can perform?
3) When can SARS search your premises without a warrant?
4) Is the onus of proof on SARS?
5) How can you make sure SARS sticks to its own search and seizure laws?
6) What can SARS seize?
7) What should you do if SARS infringes on your rights?
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Here are the answers to those crucial SARS search and seizure questions
1) SARS can now enter your premises, unannounced, to conduct a search of the premises and seize any relevant documentation under a search and seizure warrant issued by a judge or magistrate Detail unannounced inspections, searches with a warrant, searches without a warrant.
2) The two types of searches and seizures are:
- A search and seizure with a warrant; and
- A search and seizure without a warrant.
3) If SARS searches without a warrant, they must be extremely cautious. They must prove there was a real threat that would make them unable collect taxes so they couldn't wait for a search warrant.
4) Yes. They must prove that they had no other choice but to search your home then and there.
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5) You must:
- Inspect the search and seizure warrant
- Check the SARS officials ID cards
- Call for legal assistance immediately
- Make a list of all documents SARS takes
- If you're running your business from home, make sure the SARS official only searches the part of your property that's used for business purposes
6) Basically: Everything. As long as it's in the name of the business or person that owes them tax, they can seize it.
7) There are three ways to lay a complaint against SARS if it violates your rights. You can do this by going to the:
- Service Monitoring division at SARS (SSMO);
- Tax ombudsman; and
- The public protector i.e. Courts
Use this information to protect yourself if you find yourself on the wrong end of a SARS search and seizure.