An analysis of the discretion of the SARS and the relevant factors considered following a request for the suspension of the payment of disputed tax in terms of section 164(3) of the Tax Administration Act 28 of 2011

Van Wyk, Danielle (2015-12)

Thesis (MAcc)—Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Section 164(3) of the Tax Administration Act gives a senior SARS official (‘the SARS’) the discretion to suspend the payment of disputed tax or a portion thereof, having regard to relevant factors, including a list of specified factors. In this study the uncertainties regarding the discretion of the SARS and the meaning and relevance of the specified factors were examined. The objectives were to determine whether the amendments to section 164(3) addressed some of the concerns and uncertainties, to establish a basic understanding of the term ‘relevant factors’ and the impact thereof, to analyse the impact of the constitutional right to just administrative action on the manner in which the section 164(3)-discretion is exercised by the SARS, and to determine whether the ‘suspension of the payment’ of disputed tax constitutes the granting of ‘credit’ in terms of the NCA. It was established that the SARS has made several amendments to the specified factors, which resulted in some of the original concerns and uncertainties being addressed, many remaining unaddressed and creating new ones. For a factor to be considered ‘relevant’ it was determined that a close and logical sufficient connection must exist between the evidence provided by the taxpayer (factor) and the issue (request), which will make the granting of the request possible. The factor will most probably be considered with reference to all the other specific relevant factors in total. The relevance of a factor is also based upon the discretion of the SARS which adds an element of subjectivity. However, if the decision in terms of section 164(3) is unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally unfair, a taxpayer has the right to a review in terms of the PAJA. It was established that the request will form the foundation of a review application and the taxpayer therefore needs to ensure that all relevant information is included when submitting a request in terms of section 164(3). It was also concluded that a request for the suspension of payment can be equated with a credit transaction and, consequently with a ‘credit agreement’ in terms of section 8(4)(f) of the NCA. It was established that although the Tax Administration Act does contain some similarities to the relevant provisions in the NCA, the NCA can be used as guidance to simplify the process and specified factors in terms of section 164(3). The Legislator’s original intention with section 164(3) was to formalise the circumstances where the payment of tax will be required, despite objection or appeal. Based upon the existing concerns and uncertainties regarding the factors, as well as the impact of the discretion exercised by the SARS, it is however questionable whether section 164(3) in its current form endorses the Legislator’s original intention. It remains to be seen whether the Legislator will take the effect of the right to just administrative action, the unresolved concerns and uncertainties and the recommendations based on the provisions of the NCA into account in future amendments to section 164(3).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Artikel 164(3) van die Wet op Belastingadministrasie verskaf aan 'n senior SAID-amptenaar (‘die SAID’) die diskresie om die betaling van betwiste belasting, of 'n gedeelte daarvan, op te skort. Relevante faktore, insluitend 'n lys van gespesifiseerde faktore, word oorweeg. In hierdie studie is die onsekerheid rakende die diskresie van die SAID en die betekenis en relevansie van die gespesifiseerde faktore ondersoek. Die doelwitte was om te bepaal of die wysigings aan artikel 164(3) sommige van die bekommernisse of onsekerhede of aangespreek het, om 'n basiese begrip van die begrip 'relevante faktore’ en die impak daarvan vas te stel, om die impak van die Grondwetlike reg op billike administratiewe handeling op die wyse waarop die artikel 164(3)-diskresie deur die SAID uitgeoefen word te analiseer en om te bepaal of die 'opskorting van betaling’ van betwiste belasting die verlening van ‘krediet’ ingevolge die Nasionale Kredietwet (‘NKW’) uitmaak. Daar is vasgestel dat die SAID verskeie wysigings aan die gespesifiseerde faktore gemaak het, wat veroorsaak het dat ʼn paar van die oorspronklike bekommernisse en onsekerhede aangespreek is, talle onaangespreek gebly het en nuwes ontstaan het. Daar is vasgestel dat, vir 'n faktor om ‘relevant’ te wees, daar 'n nou en logiese voldoende verbintenis tussen die bewyse verskaf deur die belastingpligtige (faktor) en die kwessie (versoek) moet bestaan en dat die waarskynlikheid dat die versoek toegestaan sal word, daardeur beïnvloed sal word. Die faktor sal waarskynlik in totaal oorweeg word na inagneming van alle ander spesifieke relevante faktore. Die relevansie van 'n faktor is egter ook gebaseer op die diskresie van die SAID, wat ʼn element van subjektiwiteit meebring. Indien die administratiewe handeling ingevolge artikel 164(3) egter onregmatig, onredelik of prosedureel onbillik is, het 'n belastingbetaler, ingevolge die Wet op die Bevordering van Administratiewe Geregtigheid, die reg op ʼn hersiening. Daar is vasgestel dat die versoek die basis vorm van die hersieningsaansoek en die belastingbetaler moet dus verseker dat alle relevante inligting ingesluit is wanneer die versoek ingevolge artikel 164(3) ingedien word. Daar is ook vasgestel dat 'n versoek vir die opskorting van betaling gelykgestel kan word aan 'n ‘krediettransaksie’ en dus ook 'n ‘kredietooreenkoms’, ingevolge artikel 8(4)(f) van die NKW. Daar is vasgestel dat, alhoewel die bepalings van Wet op Belastingadministrasie en Stellenbosch University https://scholar.sun.ac.za vi die NKW sommige ooreenkomste toon, die NKW gebruik kan word om leiding rakende die vereenvoudiging van die proses en faktore van artikel 164(3) te verskaf. Die Wetgewer se oorspronklike bedoeling met artikel 164(3) was, om die omstandighede waar die betaling van belasting vereis sal word, ten spyte van ʼn beswaar of appèl, te formaliseer. Gebaseer op die bestaande bekommernisse en onsekerhede rakende die faktore, sowel as die impak van die diskresie van die SAID, word dit egter bevraagteken of artikel 164(3) in sy huidige formaat die oorspronklike bedoeling van die Wetgewer onderskryf. Tyd sal leer of die Wetgewer die effek van die reg op billike administratiewe handeling, die onaangespreekte bekommernisse en onsekerhede en die aanbevelings gebaseer op die bepalings van die NKW by toekomstige wysigings tot artikel 164(3) in ag sal neem.

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