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Judge Bernard Ngoepe says taxpayers need to know their rights and how to access the free and impartial assistance from the office of the tax ombud. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Judge Bernard Ngoepe says taxpayers need to know their rights and how to access the free and impartial assistance from the office of the tax ombud. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

The eighth anniversary celebration of the office of the tax ombud (OTO) this month coincides with the launch of #TaxpayersRightsMatter 2021 educational campaign to intensify awareness about taxpayer rights and promote tax compliance during the tax season.

Tax ombud Judge Bernard Ngoepe describes the anniversary as a milestone that marks eight years of pursuing excellence in service delivery and the beginning of another year filled with opportunities to make a more meaningful contribution to SA’s tax administration system. 

“I am pleased with what this institution has achieved in such a short period of time. We have provided a free and impartial platform to help resolve taxpayer complaints, and our interventions on numerous complaints against Sars have saved taxpayers millions of rand. It’s not only businesses that have received refunds through our intervention but also ordinary citizens, who have the right to be treated fairly and with respect,” says Ngoepe. 

Watch the video below:

The support the OTO has received from stakeholders, including taxpayers and members of recognised controlling bodies, has been outstanding.

“While some institutions may have little to show after almost a decade of existence, we have made tangible contributions in the tax administration system. A former minister of finance commended our work as having helped Sars [the SA Revenue Service] turn the proverbial corner and become a better institution,” says Ngoepe. 

“With our skills and the drive, we believe we have made a positive contribution to the improvement of the country’s tax administration system by promoting tax compliance through protecting taxpayers’ rights.”

Tax collection pressure must not infringe taxpayers’ rights 

With the Covid-19 pandemic and loss of jobs, Sars is under pressure to collect more taxes to provide much-needed services. Ngoepe says the need to collect more taxes should not infringe on taxpayers’ rights. 

“The challenges facing our country calls for increased tax compliance but not at the expense of taxpayers’ rights. It is a given that our government should collect more taxes to meet the growing social needs, including those caused by the pandemic and the recent wanton looting and destruction of property. Increased tax compliance is not only required but also necessary. We call on all taxpayers to pay what is due, and we commit to continue doing everything possible to ensure taxpayers are not forced to pay a cent more than required,” says Ngoepe.

The OTO’s education and awareness campaign reiterates the office’s service delivery philosophy and promotes taxpayer rights. Ngoepe says the campaign will ensure more taxpayers know about the OTO and the free and impartial assistance it provides to those with complaints against Sars.

“Over the years, we have intensified our campaign to promote awareness about the OTO and taxpayer rights, which we are mandated to protect. We call on all to pay taxes due; it is legal and morally right. Pay your taxes and make a difference to the country and its people.” 

Ngoepe warns that corruption compromises tax compliance, with some taxpayers threatening to boycott paying taxes because of that. “I believe more people would willingly pay taxes if they knew their taxes would be used to help make the lives of all people better.”

Taxpayers can contact the office of the tax ombud on 080-066-2837 or complaints@taxombud.gov.za or visit the website for more information about when and how to lodge a tax complaint. Walk-in visits are still suspended due to the pandemic until further notice.

For information on taxpayer rights click here >>>

This article was paid for the office of the tax ombud.

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