Tax appeals – how long can SARS take?

Tax appeals – how long can SARS take?

SARS is known for taking their time when it comes to processing appeals against assessments, especially if the appeal is not destined for litigation from the outset. Whilst there may be various reasons for these delays, the fact of the matter is that there are prescribed timelines within which certain steps in the appeal process must be completed and SARS must abide by those timelines.

In our experience, the SARS call centre will have taxpayers believe that SARS has 90 days from date of submission of the appeal to finalise it. This is simply incorrect. The time periods prescribed in the rules is that SARS must, assuming you are not heading for litigation, provide the taxpayer with a notice within 30 days from date of filing the appeal and they then have 90 days from date of that notice to finalise proceedings. In short then, SARS has 120 days to finalise an appeal from date of submission.  You might think that the 90 days promised by the call centre is better than 120 days. However, the 90 day period only start running after SARS issues the notice referred to earlier. Therefore, if you don’t get the notice, the 90 day period never starts running and this is when, in our experience, appeals drag on for months on end and sometimes even years.

It is imperative when filing an appeal that taxpayers take the necessary steps to keep SARS to the first 30 day period to ensure conclusion of appeal proceedings within the maximum of 120 days. There are various steps a taxpayer can take to call SARS to action and to prevent appeals from dragging with no apparent conclusion in sight. Contact us for assistance if you filed an appeal and SARS is simply not attending to it or if the only feedback you are getting is that the appeal is in progress.