Practical Guide to Handling Tax Disputes

This book guides taxpayers and tax professionals through the practical,
day to day process and challenges of tax disputes

Practical Guide

All the Taxpayer's Remedies Explained

If you ever need to challenge an assessment or decision by SARS, you need this book. In it, our founder, Nico Theron (who has a 100% success rate in challenging SARS’ assessments through the objection and appeal process), explains all the remedies available to a taxpayer to challenge SARS.


SARS’ Obligations Pointed Out

Contrary to popular belief, SARS cannot do whatever it wants, how it wants. It is a creature of statute. Knowing what SARS is required by law to do when they raise an assessment or make a decision can go a long way in successfully challenging an assessment or decision by SARS. This book points out what SARS is supposed to do and what the consequence is for their failure to abide by the law and how to hold SARS to account for failure to comply with the law.


So Many Rules

This work contains easy to understand examples, flow charts and templates aimed to Not only assist taxpayers and tax practitioners to understand the myriad of rules that govern engagements with SARS but also to help them give effect to them in practice.

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Why Risk Getting it Wrong?

Following an incorrect process or not properly following a process may have devastating consequences for a taxpayer, not to mention wasted time and cost.


This book guides taxpayers through the process.


Often times, the only way to ensure that taxpayers don’t pay anything more than what is legally due is to challenge an assessment or decision by SARS.

Knowing how to challenge such assessments or decisions is therefore a prerequisite to ensuring taxpayers don’t pay more than what is legally due. Our latest contribution to the tax profession and taxpayers generally will help taxpayers with that.

About the author

Nico Theron (BCom Law (cum laude) (UP); LLM (Tax Law) (UP); BCom Honours Taxation (UP); MCom Taxation (SA and International Tax) (UP) is a Chartered Tax Adviser with over a decade’s experience in rendering exclusively tax-focused services to taxpayers. He is the founder of specialist tax firm, Unicus Tax Specialists SA, which focuses mainly on defending taxpayers against assessments and decisions by SARS. At the time of going to print, the Unicus Tax core dispute team, which includes an admitted attorney, ex SARS auditor, and Nico, has a 100% success rate in resolving tax disputes in favour of taxpayers, saving them millions in undue taxes, penalties and interest. He also regularly provides tax training to other tax professionals in practice across South Africa on behalf of the South African Institute of Tax Professionals (SAIT). In addition, Nico lectures on the Tax Administration Act to postgraduate tax students at the University of Pretoria from time to time and also serves on SAIT’s Tax Administration Technical Work Group.

Nico Theron

Why this book was written:

I wrote the Practical Guide to Handling Tax Disputes because the rules that govern tax disputes are unique and there is no dedicated and detailed source of reference that explains them. The absence of a dedicated source of reference such as the Practical Guide To Handling Tax Disputes, has led to tremendous difficulty in practice occasioned by different interpretations of the rules as well as a lack of understanding of the rules. The Practical Guide To Handling Tax Disputes explains at both a practical and technical level the rules that govern engagement with SARS where the taxpayer mounts a challenge. It guides taxpayers and tax professionals through the practical, day to day processes and challenges of tax disputes and aspires to be a single go to reference of commentary on the more technical aspects of the rules that govern tax dispute resolution.

Professional Insights

Book reviews

“Handling tax disputes has become a leading topic required for tax practitioners. The days are gone when tax compliance simply means that returns can be submitted on behalf of clients with little or no review by SARS. SARS is now questioning an increasing number of returns. As a result, practitioners must be able to defend their positions to limit their client’s exposure in terms of further liabilities, penalties and interest. In terms of tax events and other tax gatherings, “the hot topic” has become the tax dispute process between taxpayers and SARS.

The “Practical Guide to Handling Tax Disputes” by Nico Theron is a long overdue publication for tax practitioners. It is the only book on the market that directly deals with these sensitive issues. This book does more than repeat the law or compile the law in an academic way. The book is properly broken down in practical terms from the early notice period (i.e. pre-assessment) through the appeals process prior to court action. Key recurring issues are addressed, such as the request for SARS reasons, handling of objections, pay-now-argue later and tax clearance certificates.Besides providing a practical blueprint to the law, this book takes into account the various interpretation notes and related-SARS guidance. The book even provides a series of templates (Annexure B) for responding to SARS.In short, this book is a must read for tax practitioners engaged in day-to-day tax compliance and controversy. While taxes must be properly paid, clients need to be assured that they won’t be forced to pay more than as due; they additionally need the certainty of being free of unnecessary penalties and interest.

I strongly recommend this book for the members of SAIT and the rest of the tax community!”


“With the significant increase in tax disputes in recent years, it has become essential for tax practitioners to know how to handle such disputes from a practical perspective. Yet there is a dearth of practical guidelines, other than those provided by SARS itself. This work fills that gap in a clear and easily readable manner.

 In dealing with a myriad of practical issues that arise in the context of tax disputes, the author has provided a useful collation of legislative provisions, Tax Court rules and judgments relevant to the various rights and remedies available to taxpayers involved in tax disputes. The inclusion of “user-friendly” summaries, diagrams and templates provides a convenient and effective way for a practitioner to navigate the dispute resolution procedures and to draft legal documents relating to those procedures.”