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Personal liability: The one thing a representative taxpayer must do when he's no longer responsible for your company's finances

by , 01 October 2013
You probably know that if you're the financial manager, bookkeeper or accountant in your company, the Tax Admin Act deems you personally liable for your company's tax. But did you know there's one thing you must do if you cease to be a representative person?

According to the Practical Vat Loose Leaf Service, a representative person (also called a representative taxpayer) is anyone who's responsible for paying the tax liability of another person or company and is nominated at SARS as the representative person.

Basically, in terms of the Tax Admin Act, you'll be held personally (representative taxpayer) liable for your company's tax debt.

But what happens when you cease to be a representative taxpayer?

If you cease to be a representative person or withholding agent, you must notify SARS within 21 business days from the effective date.

But be careful! Just because you cease to be a representative person or a withholding agent it doesn't relieve you of the liability you had while you were responsible.

For example: Let's say you've been appointed as the representative person for your company. You perform the role from 1 October 2012 to 30 December 2013.

If there are any issues that arise during this time, you'll be personally liable for them. If anything arises before or after this time period, you won't be held personally liable.

If you don't notify SARS after you've left, you'll still be the first contact person SARS phones for the companies' tax issues or debt and you'll have to prove you're no longer responsible.

There's no specific form you can use to change the representative taxpayer. But, it's best to send in a letter stating that someone else is now the representative.

But remember to state your Vat number clearly and make a copy of the letter so the SARS staff member you see at the SARS client service centre can stamp it.

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