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Has SARS requested to access your company information and records? Here's what you NEED to know

by , 01 August 2013
You probably know that you must keep your company records for up to five years so SARS can be satisfied itself you've followed the law. But do you know the process that follows once SARS has made a request to see these records? Read on to find out so you can comply.

Record-keeping is the most important aspect of your Vat management strategy because your records are the proof you need to substantiate your claims and returns to SARS, says the Practical Vat Handbook.

To safeguard your rights and comply with the law, you need to know the process that will follow once SARS has informed you it wants to see your company records.

Here's what will happen if SARS has asked to see your company information and records

#1: SARS can arrive without an appointment

It's important to note SARS can arrive at your business premises without making an appointment or giving you any prior notice. These visits take place SARS can:

  • Administer a tax act;
  • Broaden the tax base;
  • Verify the existence of a business (they'll check if clients walk in and out of the premises and for signs the business exists).

Keep in mind an inspection in these instances can only determine:

  • Your identity as the person occupying the premises;
  • Whether or not you've registered for tax; and
  • If records are being kept in the required format.

#2: SARS can ask you to come in for questioning

  • If SARS has concerns about your Vat returns or if it's received information about you it wants to verify, it can ask you to come in for a meeting. A senior SARS official must authorise the request for you to come in for a meeting.
  • At the meeting or interview, SARS is limited to the following:
  • The interview and questioning is limited to your company's tax affairs. This means, for instance, they can't ask you about your wife or husband's taxes.
  • The interview must clarify issues of concern to SARS, making further verification or audit unnecessary;
  • The interview can't be used as part of a criminal investigation;
  • The questioning can't take place under oath (unless you agree to it);
  • The questions must be relevant to the reason you're there. If SARS has stated it's going to question you and your record keeping for March 2010's Vat return, it can't ask you where you were two Thursday nights ago as it's not relevant to March 2010's return; and
  • You can decline to attend the meeting if your business or home is too far away. The distance is prescribed by the SARS Commissioner in a public notice.

Knowing the process that follows once SARS has asked to see your company records will help ensure you comply and safeguard your rights.



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