Judge Bernard Ngoepe from the Office of the Tax Ombud visited the University of Pretoria yesterday (13 October) to talk about the impact of this office on taxpayers and to assess the first full annual report of this Office, which was lodged at Parliament on the same day.
UP’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, welcomed Judge Ngoepe, and stressed the importance of partnerships, such as the one between the University and the Office of the Tax Ombud that has resulted in the event, which is part of the EMS Talk Series.
Judge Ngoepe’s keynote address was followed by a panel discussion in which various influential role players in the field of South African tax took part.
The Office of the Tax Ombud was founded in October 2013 to handle complaints from tax payers regarding the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The annual report that was discussed was the first full annual report, covering the year period ending on 31 March 2015.
In his speech Judge Ngoepe said the best way to improve the collection of tax, is to create a culture of co-operative compliance. He said that tax payers should demand that tax money is used appropriately to alleviate the plight of the poor and not enrich politically connected individuals.
During the reporting period, the Office of the Tax Ombud received 1 277 complaints, but only 409 were within the mandate of the Office. The rest had to be referred back to SARS because not all the channels and mechanisms at the revenue service were exhausted first.
According to the report more than 75% of the complaints handled by the Office were found in favour of the taxpayer.
The panel discussion was led by Prof Madeleine Stiglingh, Head of the Department of Taxation at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at UP. The other participants were Judge Ngoepe, Dr Beric Croome from ENSafrica, Prof Riël Franzsen, Director of the African Tax Institute at UP, Adv Eric Mkhawane, CEO of the Office of the Tax Ombud and Mr Narcizio Makwakwa, Executive Indirect Taxes at Sars.
Adv Makhawane thanked UP for hosting the event, and also for providing specialist education in taxation through its curricula.
More information about the Office of the Tax Ombud is available at www.taxombud.gov.za.