Factors to consider when establishing an effective tax ombudsman in South Africa
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This study examines the factors to consider in establishing an effective tax Ombudsman in South Africa. It seeks to establish how the democratic protection institutions such as the South African Public Protector and the South African Human Rights Commission and the Courts created in terms of the 1996 Constitution vis-à-vis the ways the South African Revenue Service‟ (hereinafter referred to as SARS) new court rules and Service Monitoring Offices safeguard and protect taxpayers rights against SARS‟ administrative abuses. The researcher reviews and analyses literature gathered from the following sources: the Australian and Canadian tax Ombudsman, the United Kingdom‟s tax adjudicator, the South African motor industry Ombudsman, the South African banking services Ombudsman, the South African Public Protector, the Tax Administration Act (28 of 2011) (hereinafter referred to as the TAA), the South African Constitution (108 of 1996), and other popular scientific articles and reports on the introduction of the tax Ombudsman in South Africa. The findings reveal the core factors that underscore the establishment of an effective tax Ombud in South Africa to include: independence, neutrality, credible review process and confidentiality. Other auxiliary factors with regard to the appointment of the tax Ombud are: leadership skills, honesty, integrity and courage. Furthermore, the provisions of the TAA, in relation to the appointment of the tax Ombud‟s funding, staffing, location, and powers with particular reference to cost recovery and disclosure of taxpayers‟ confidential information, impede on the tax Ombud‟s independence. It also emerged from this study that the independence of the tax Ombud‟s office is being over-emphasised, leaving other pertinent issues of equal importance, such as education and publicity, unattended to. The recommendations for this study revolve on the tax Ombud‟s appointment, budget and recruitment of its own staff, building a reputation of independence through public education and the power to recover costs.