In 2017 the OTO issued a report after finalising a systemic investigation into what caused delays in SARS paying refunds to taxpayers.

One of the issues identified was that SARS delays the revision of assessments after disputes have been finalised. The primary issue noted by the Tax Ombud was that there is no prescribed timeframe for SARS to revise assessments under these circumstances.

In response, SARS gave the undertaking to issue these revisions within 45 days after finalising the disputes. Subsequently, SARS revised its Service Charter but remains silent on this specific issue. Therefore, the OTO is still holding SARS to the period it communicated during this investigation when dealing with complaints such as the one that is the subject of this month’s case study. This case study also touches on another systemic issue identified by the OTO. The issue relates to SARS’s system not calculating the periods for dispute resolution correctly and thereby incorrectly channelling disputes for condonation.