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Can SARS 'validly' send an assessment via eFiling?

by , 16 February 2016
If SARS is unhappy with either your income tax or your VAT return, they'll be entitled to deliver an assessment to you.

But now an interesting question is raised here, namely: 'Can SARS VALIDLY deliver an assessment to you via eFiling?

In this article, we'll answer that question for you...


The Tax Administration Act obliges SARS to deliver notices, AND assessments, to your electronic address, such as your last known email address and/or fax number.
Now, it's pretty doubtful that your SARS eFiling profile qualifies as an electronic address, and so SARS' current practice of delivering assessments via eFiling is arguably invalid.
If SARS doesn't have proof that they sent an assessment to your prescribed address, or in the prescribed manner, they'll be unable to prove that they validly assessed you, and so they won't be 
able to start collection proceedings against you

Case Law:

Have you received a nasty assessment from SARS?
  • Request the specific information it wanted from you for the audit;
  • Keep you informed of the progress of the audit; and
  • Notify you within 21 business days of its findings before it raised the assessment?
I suspect it didn't! And now it's assessed you and you don't agree.
Here's what you should do to object against SARS' assessment.
In 2003, the Appeal Court confirmed this in the case of Singh v Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service 2003 (4) SA 520 (SCA).

Here, the court said that SARS must deliver a notice of assessment to the taxpayer in one of the ways prescribed in the particular tax act.

In this case, SARS had raised a VAT assessment and had judged the taxpayer BEFORE they had delivered the assessment to the taxpayer. And so the Court found the judgement to be invalid because it hadn't delivered the assessment to the taxpayer FIRST.
What can you learn from this case?

SARS must be able to prove that it delivered an assessment to you in a PRESCRIBED MANNER. If they can't, then they can't start collection proceedings against you.

So if you become aware of an assessment which SARS raised against you, but didn't deliver it to you in a prescribed manner, then you're not without a case.

But in this situation, it's advised you get a legal expert to help you.
*Do you want to learn more on SARS assessments, alongside objecting and appealing them? Then page over to chapter O 01: Objections and Appeals in your Practical VAT Loose Leaf Service, or click here if you don't already have a copy. 

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