The Office of the Tax Ombud was established in October 2013 to enhance the tax administration system. Until then, there was no independent redress channel for taxpayers who had exhausted the normal SARS complaints mechanisms. Our Office is based on best international practice and was modelled on the Tax Ombud systems of Canada, the United States of America and United Kingdom.
The Office works specifically with taxpayers who have been unable to resolve a service, procedural or administrative complaint through the normal complaints management channels of SARS. We do our utmost to assist these taxpayers to resolve their complaints speedily, amicably and free of charge before it becomes necessary for them to consider entering into protracted court processes. In this way, the Office facilitates access to justice in South Africa and contributes to a culture of respect for the tax system and for taxpayers’ rights.
The Tax Ombud plays a unique taxpayer complaints resolution role and aligns with the Public Protector. The Public Protector exists to ensure administrative justice by being a check on the exercise by government and its agencies of their authority, and on the other hand, the Tax Ombud exist to ensure administrative justice by being a check on the exercise of authority by SARS. OTO was created on best international standards and has largely drawn from the Canadian, US and UK models. Like its North American and European counterparts, the Office is independent of, but funded through, SARS.
The Tax Ombud, currently retired Judge President of the Gauteng High Courts Judge Bernard Ngoepe, is appointed by and reports directly to the Minister of Finance, and may only be removed by the Minister. The term of Tax Ombud is five years and can be renewed.
The institution is built on a structure supported by four pillars, namely the Operations, Communication and Outreach, Office Enablement, and Legal Services. Each is led and supported by hard-working and committed experts in their fields pursuing excellence to ensure delivery on the mandate.