Please find attached a soundbite by Dr Dion George MP, DA Shadow Minister of Finance.
At a meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance this afternoon, the Tax Ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe complained to the Committee that the office of the Tax Ombud was not actually established in law and that he had raised this with former Ministers of Finance without any response and that in his opinion all funds spent on the Office of the Ombud by SARS is irregular spending.
In response to my questions he indicated that the current anomaly is legally untenable. He indicated that his view was that taxpayers had not been negatively affected as a result of his good personal relationship with SARS and that the office of the Tax Ombud cannot be operated on the basis of good relationships, but rather a strong independent institutional foundations.
The Ombud brought a number of concerns regarding SARS to the Committee’s attention, including:
- Delay in refunds;
- Non adherence to dispute resolution procedure; and
- Withholding VAT refunds
The Tax Ombud indicated that his office was not able to operate effectively under the circumstances of it not being independent from SARS in terms of its establishment and budget.
This is an untenable situation for taxpayers given that the power relationship between taxpayers and SARS is heavily skewed in favour of SARS and the role of the Tax Ombud is to introduce some balance into this relationship.
The DA will write to the Minister of Finance requesting an investigation into the reasons why the Office has not been formally established despite the Judges’ pleas to former Ministers and what immediate steps he will take to formally establish it.
The Office of the Tax Ombud cannot properly service taxpayers as is intended until this matter is properly resolved.