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'What's happening with my audit?' How to make SARS stick to this 90-day rule

by , 22 September 2016
Do you know what's happening with your SARS audit? If SARS has audited you before, you'll know that you send all the requested information to them and then you wait... and wait... and wait.

And if you phone to find out how much longer the audit will take, SARS will tell you 'it's under no statutory obligation to complete the audit within a certain timeframe'.

Now you can tell SARS they're wrong. Here's how...

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Why you can tell SARS they're wrong

From 1 October 2012, a useful bit of legislation was added to section 42 of the Tax Admin Act that makes sure SARS gives you a status report of your audit.
The SARS official responsible for your audit must give you a report showing how far your audit is. If they don't, refer them to Public Notice No. 788, published on 1 October 2012 in Government Gazette No. 35733.
Here's how to use it to your benefit and not SARS.
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Are you ready for your SARS tax audit?
How to deal with your 'unwelcome' guests
After receiving hundreds of questions about audits from business people just like you, the team at FSP Business has compiled a resource that'll make sure the SARS auditors are out of your hair as soon as possible.
We'll put you in the shoes of the SARS auditor by showing you what auditors are trained to look for, and what they'll consider risk areas, so you won't face any unpleasant surprises.
You see, if there's one thing I know about auditors it's this: The longer they take to search for what they need, the longer they'll be at your office, and the more likely it is that they'll uncover more than what they were looking for (and the higher your penalties will be).
This essential resource gives you everything you need to adequately and efficiently prepare for an audit once you've received the dreaded notification.

How to make SARS stick to this 90-day rule
SARS has to give you a status update of your audit within 90 days after the start of the audit and at 90 day intervals thereafter.
Your report should include:
  • A description of the current scope of the audit;
  • The stage of completion of the audit;
  • If there's any relevant material that's still outstanding from the taxpayer
What can you do if SARS doesn't send you the report?
Unfortunately, there's no penalty for SARS if they don't send you the report or finalise your audit within a reasonable period.
So what can you do?
Report the matter to the SARS Complaints Monitoring Office (CMO) and ask for their assistance. The CMO functions like a whip, and despite being a part of SARS, operates almost like an independent watchdog for taxpayers to ensure SARS officials do what they're supposed to within deadlines.
If the CMO doesn't get you results, you can approach the civil courts to grant a mandamus (mandatory interdict) against the relevant SARS official to carry out his obligations in terms of section 42 of the Act.
An alternative could be to approach the High Court to take SARS on review for its failure to comply with section 33 of The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, as well as the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, Act 3 of 2000 ('PAJA'). This could cost you a small fortune, and the costs and process involved would probably far outweigh the solution you want.
Even though there isn't much you can do if SARS doesn't send your status report, it's important for you to know that at least you can request it.

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