The Office of the Tax Ombud (OTO) has published a draft “Compendium of taxpayer rights, entitlements and obligations” for public comment. It is not an enforceable “bill of rights” but a compilation of principles that are contained in various documents, including the Constitution and the Tax Administration Act.
The Tax Ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, said these documents are technical and often difficult to understand. The compendium provides a summary of taxpayers’ rights and obligations set out in various government documents and pieces of legislation. “It can easily be used as a reference tool to guide a person towards the information they need.”
Judge Ngoepe reiterated his call for South Africa to have a Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
He said such a bill of rights would help to strengthen constitutional democracy, improve the level of accountability by the South African Revenue Service, and support an improved tax administration system, thus helping to create confidence in the revenue collector.
The 16-page document can be downloaded from the OTO’s website. The deadline to comment is 18 March.
According to the compendium, taxpayers’ obligations include “the duty to work to the best of their ability and to pay the taxes imposed by law in the interest of society” and “always be honest and accurate in your engagements with Sars and the Tax Ombud”.
Considering that those obligations supposedly apply to everyone, taxpayers would have more “confidence in the revenue collector” if it was seen to be taking action against individuals and entities linked to state capture and corruption.