Tax Ombudsman Report on SARS Delaying Payment of Refunds

Tax Ombudsman Report on SARS Delaying Payment of Refunds


In September the Tax Ombudsman released their report on their investigation as to whether there was evidence to support the view that SARS were intentionally delaying the repayment of refunds to individuals.

The Tax Ombudsman’s report concluded that there was sufficient evidence to suggest SARS were delaying refund payments on purpose.

This is not a surprise. Over the past twelve to eighteen months we have received a number of complaints from clients. The reasons provided for late payments have been similar to those outlined by the ombudsman and include:

  1. The taxpayer or tax practitioner submits all the supporting documentation required by SARS via e-filing. The case is resolved after a couple of weeks and a ‘completion’ letter received. The taxpayer expects to receive their tax refund within a week or two but this does not happen. Contact is made with SARS and the taxpayer / tax practitioner is told that there is a ‘special stopper’ on the account. The taxpayer is told they must come in personally with their proof of address, ID, banking details and all the supporting documentation used to complete their return. The reason provided for this is the high probability of fraud on the taxpayer’s account.
  2. Tax returns are submitted with there being no request for verification. Taxpayers then receive a verification request some weeks later. Supporting documentation has then to be uploaded to SARS and in the process delaying the release of a potential refund by 3-4 weeks.
  3. Taxpayers after meeting all compliance requirements find that they do not receive their tax refund. After enquiring with SARS they are told that their banking details need to be validated. The taxpayer then must personally go into SARS to perform this process. This is particularly irksome where banking details have not changed and have been on the system for many years.

We wish there were a simple way to fix this. Alas the only way is to go into a SARS branch and try and address this directly.