Public Protector and Tax Ombud join forces to tackle tax-related grievances
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see the Public Protector South Africa and the Office of the Tax Ombud (OTO) working closely together to resolve taxpayers’ complaints against the South African Revenue Service (SARS) was signed in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Public Protector, Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, and Tax Ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, signed the agreement, committing to jointly cultivate sound principles of public administration, good governance and public accountability where the revenue authority is concerned.
In terms of the agreement, the two institutions have resolved to cooperate on, among other things, investigations concerning service, procedural or administrative matters arising from the application of tax laws, the investigation of alleged or suspected unfair treatment of taxpayers by the revenue collector and on public awareness programmes.
Due to points of convergence in the parties’ mandates, the agreement provides for the optimal use of resources and management of potential duplications of work by way of a cross-referral of complaints, with the Public Protector serving as a complaints body of last resort.
Judge Ngoepe’s office has reported that it has processed more than 12 000 complaints since the institution opened its doors in 2013. These are complaints that would have most probably made their way into Adv. Mkhwebane’s 18 000 cases-a-year workload.
“Since last year, my office has been on a nationwide drive to encourage organs of state to establish internal complaints units or sectoral ombudsman institutions in the mould of the Tax Ombud. This is a key component of the Public Protector Vision 2023,” said Adv. Mkhwebane.
“The idea is to keep our workload at manageable levels so as to enable us to focus some of our attention on systemic problems in state affairs. With this approach, we will also be in a position to proactively identify problems in the system and launch interventions and investigations on our own initiative.”
Judge Ngoepe welcomed the signing of the MoU describing it as a step in the right direction. “Collaboration between State bodies is important especially when it is for the benefit of citizens. I am pleased with the MoU and confident that it will benefit taxpayers and strengthen both institutions regarding their abilities to fulfil their respective mandates.”
“Our respective roles as independent institutions are, in some instances, similar; in particular, regarding the protection and promotion of taxpayers’ rights,” Judge Ngoepe explained.
The Public Protector South Africa has collaborated with other ombud services in the public sector such as the City of Joburg Ombudsman and the Military Ombudsman.
For Public Protector related queries and interview requests, contact:
Public Protector South Africa
(012) 366 7035
072 264 3273
For Tax Ombudsman related queries and interview requests, contact
Ms Pearl Seopela
Senior Manager: Communications
012 431 9336
060 971 4551