New SARS ‘Single Registration System’

New SARS ‘Single Registration System’

Legislation, Tax

SARS has recently sent out a communiqué to registered tax practitioners outlining their plans for a single registration system. SARS mentions that, as of May 2014, there will be changes to the registration process for individuals and companies across various tax types, with the initial focus being Income Tax, VAT and PAYE. Once the entire project has been rolled out, taxpayers and tax practitioners will have a single interface to SARS for registration and detail amendment needs. SARS envisages that this will make managing tax clients’ affairs easier, as all the products will be linked to the practitioners profile at SARS.

SARS believes that the immediate benefits include faster turnaround times for first-time registration applications, the introduction of additional registration channels and simpler processes for official taxpayer representatives. SARS lists the initial changes to include:

  • A new centralised application processing capability for the registration of an entity.
  • New clients will only need to submit a registration application once (done at a SARS branch), and thereafter simply register for different products via eFiling.
  • Clients will be able to register for and manage Income Tax, VAT and PAYE via eFiling on a Registration, Amendments and Verification (RAV01) form.
  • SARS will offer a process that caters for both the electronic submission of applications (via eFiling) and walk-in applications at SARS branches. At the branches the current forms will be used, with the SARS agent capturing the application while the applicant waits. VAT applications may require additional steps if identified as high risk.
  • Automated registration if the employer registers employees through ITReg.
  • As soon as a company is registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) it will be registered with SARS for Income Tax purposes.
  • Information filed at the CIPC and Home Affairs will be used during the registration process for companies and individuals to ensure that it matches what is supplied by the taxpayer. Where mismatches occur taxpayers will need to go to their local SARS branch office to correct this mismatched information.
  • Registered entities will be linked with their ‘representative persons’ on the SARS system. Anyone who represents any entity will have to be registered with SARS and linked to the entity that they represent. The representative will need to bring in their power of attorney and other relevant documents to a SARS branch once.
  • The official ‘representative person’ of an entity can also allocate the rights to use the registration service on eFiling to additional people who perform the same functions (including tax practitioners who are acting on behalf of the company).
  • There will be strict control of certain sensitive information. Where information such as identity numbers, registration numbers and representative person details are to be changed the individual will need to go into a branch for a physical authentication of the relevant documentation.
  • Registrations or amendments to registered details will be confirmed electronically via email, SMS or eFiling notice.
  • With the ultimate aim of the new system being a single view of all tax products linked to the profile, it will take some time for all the products to be visible under the profile.

It is important for business owners and representatives to understand the role that tax practitioners will play in this process.

  • Tax practitioners are not regarded as the official ‘representative persons’ and will need to take their Power of Attorney forms to each SARS visit. It is envisaged that tax practitioner / client relationships will be recorded at a later stage, with the tax practitioner treated the same as a representative.
  • It is SARS intention that tax practitioners should not be able to change sensitive details of their clients. In the short term, SARS will however allow tax practitioners to change registered details of the client via eFiling. The exception to this will be sensitive information such as identity numbers and registration numbers. The representative person will need to change this by supplying the appropriate documentation in person at SARS.
  • Tax practitioners visiting a SARS branch will be entitled to change addresses and contact details as well as submitting new product registration applications.
  • Registered representatives will be able to submit new product registration applications from eFiling as well as assign additional users to eFiling. They will however not be able to change identity or registration numbers in eFiling.
  • Tax practitioners authorised to act on behalf of the company who already are registered to submit the company’s tax returns will still have access to the returns via eFiling.

The changes proposed by SARS are clearly a step in the right direction. This will streamline the registration and taxpayer details management process significantly. Teething problems will no doubt cause frustrations for practitioners in the early stages. Most of these frustrations will relate to the authority to transact process and the logistics of getting ‘representative persons’ to SARS. Tax practitioners know that clients outsource the registration process to avoid dealing with SARS. Having to take directors to SARS to validate the registration process or update identity / registration numbers will certainly complicate matters. As with any new process though it will take time to get used to and in the long term the benefits will certainly outweigh the negatives.

Should you have any questions in this regard please do not hesitate to contact Dave Beattie on either [email protected] or 031 582 7410.