When the South African Revenue Service (SARS) issues an assessment, the pay-now-argue-later rules apply. For a business this can seriously affect their cash flow, especially when they feel aggrieved by the assessment and intend challenging it by lodging an objection. The law does make provision for this, by allowing the taxpayer who intends to object, to request suspension of payment until the dispute has been finalised (section 164 TAA) and then prohibiting SARS from collecting until 2 weeks after it responds to the application or after the suspension is withdrawn (section 164(6) TAA).

Up until now, this has been a time consuming and frustrating procedure with no SARS form to guide what information needs to be provided, which sections apply or where to even deliver this application. Due to the manual process, few applications were responded to.

However, from 4 December 2015, taxpayers and practitioners can now file suspension of payment requests online on SARS eFiling or electronically at a SARS Branch. No SARS guide has yet been issued explaining this functionality. However the form is available under the ‘Dispute’ tab on eFiling by creating a ‘New dispute’ and selecting ‘Suspension of payment’ in the drop down box. Reasons for the request should be provided. Once completed, an opportunity to view the completed form before submitting is provided. As no guidance has thus far been issued on the matter practitioners should be cognizant of some of the factors listed (section 164(3) TAA) for consideration by SARS that may be relevant in addition to the reasons of the taxpayer.

SARS have split the procedure between conjoined applications (i.e. dispute by objection and suspension simultaneously) and filing of standalone payment suspension applications. The former can only be done at a SARS Branch and these most probably would be for simple matters such as undisputed errors on the assessment or in the return. The standalone payment suspension application is done via SARS eFiling and would be applicable in most matters. This would be done after receipt of the disputed assessment to ensure that TCC’s etc. remain unaffected, whereas the objection is only filed 30 business days after the assessment date.


Pieter Faber – SAICA Project Director: Taxation (Small and Medium Practices – First Quarter)