SARS Objections and Appeals

100% Success Rate

We have a 100% win rate on our objections and appeals we have taken against SARS

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Our practical and strategic advice adds value to business procedures and transactions

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We provide business orientated, reliable, accurate and effective tax solutions

100% Success Rate

Unicus Tax has a 100% success rate in resolving tax disputes in favour of taxpayers. This simply means we have always been able to get a tax liability reduced or a decision by SARS changed every time we have taken on a case through the SARS objections and appeals process. The reason for this is aptly explained by one of our dispute resolution clients for whom we achieved an unprecedented result in the Tax Court with significant and extensive savings. We also assist clients with the SARS voluntary disclosure program.

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Objection and Appeal Page - No Nonsense

No-Nonsense Approach

We take a no-nonsense approach when it comes to solving tax issues.  We pride ourselves in our strategic, yet practical ability to delve into the inner workings of the tax system to develop tax  solutions the add value to our clients.

It is the Unicus Tax team’s firm grasp of tax law combined with our unique ability to use our top class skill to the benefit of our clients as well as our accessibility and years of experience that makes us the go-to, trusted tax experts for Financial Directors and CEO’s of large companies, high net worth individuals and various audit and law firms across South Africa.

We have secured payment by SARS of millions in unlawfully withheld refunds, have a 100% win rate on tax disputes we take on against SARS, have a 100% VDP success rate, have saved taxpayers hundreds of millions in undue taxes and tax penalties, and have resolved and continue to resolve issues with SARS where other practitioners were unable to secure resolution.

You too can benefit from our service.

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Cases we typically work on:

Factually or legally complicated

Everything has been tried, case is not progressing or you think you have no case

High Value

Our typical dispute value will exceed R1 million or SARS imposed Understatement penalties exceed R 1 million

Time is of the Essence

The dispute is late or the assessment has prescribed. SARS is not responding or you are running out of time

Invalid or Disallowed

Objection is declared invalid or disallowed

Audit in Question

Assessment issued after audit, or you need to respond to audit findings. SARS has commenced with an audit and you need assistance.

Lifestyle Audit

We know this happens and we know how to deal with them.

I made a Mistake

Mistakes happen, how you fix it makes the difference

Need Representation

Going to and ADR meeting, and you need practical and legal guidance

Onus not Discharged

You are being accused - "Onus of proof not discharge" you need help

We know our stuff

business sale tax implications

Experience and knowledge

To be as successful in tax dispute resolution as we are, you require an exceptionally good understanding of substantive tax law, procedural tax law, SARS’ systems and procedures and the skill to move (or “lift”, as we like to say) SARS officials. Our team of experts have backgrounds in law, finance, business, accounting auditing and SARS. Our founder, quite literally, wrote the book on tax dispute resolution, lectures on tax dispute resolution at a couple of SA universities from time to time and heads the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners Tax Administration Work Group.  We have managed to win cases on merits, on procedural remedies and prevented millions of rands in assessments ever even being raised despite the assessment’s issue being seemingly inevitable. 

Strategy, Strategy, Strategy

From the moment we accept an engagement, we start thinking strategy – what is the fastest and easiest way to resolve this. Where is the case weak, where is the case strong and we devise a strategy around that.

tax health reviews
Understatement Penalties


One of the main reasons we get cases over the line, often more efficient and effective than others, is that we thoroughly understand the concept of onus of proof in tax matters, especially pre-litigation. And, because we understand SARS, we also have an almost unparallel way of presenting evidence to SARS in the pre-ligation phase of a dispute which gives us the ability to resolve most cases long before they ever reach litigation.

Understanding SARS Objections and Appeals

SARS objections and appeals are part of the dispute resolution procedure, which allows taxpayers to contest a SARS assessment or decision.

An objection is the initial step in disputing an evaluation or conclusion. It must be submitted using the appropriate form and supporting papers within 30 business days of the date of the evaluation or decision. SARS must consider the objection and respond within 60 business days, subject to a few exceptions that allow them a longer period to respond.

If the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the resolution of the objection, he or she may file an appeal within 30 working days of the conclusion of the objection, using the required form, and specifying whether the taxpayer wishes to appeal to the tax board or the tax court or whether the taxpayer wishes to follow certain alternative dispute resolution processes that are similar to mediation. SARS will then work with the taxpayer in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or send the case to the tax board or tax court for a hearing.

The taxpayer has the right to object to and appeal various sorts of assessments and decisions, such as income tax, VAT, transfer duty, and so on. The taxpayer may request reasons for an assessment or decision, remission of penalties or interest, or payment suspension pending an objection or appeal.


The Role of Objections and Appeals in SARS Decision-Making

Objections and appeals play a role in SARS decision-making by providing a fair and unbiased method for resolving tax issues between taxpayers and SARS.

Taxpayers can use objections and appeals to contest SARS assessments or conclusions that they believe are erroneous or unjust, and to submit arguments and evidence to back up their views. Objections and appeals also allow SARS to review its assessments or determinations and fix any errors or mistakes.

Objections and appeals also serve to ensure that SARS administers tax laws consistently and correctly, as well as that taxpayers’ rights and obligations are respected.


Navigating the SARS Appeals Process

The following steps must be taken to appeal against a SARS assessment:

  1. You must first file an objection to the assessment within 80 business days of the date of the assessment. You can do this online or at a SARS branch.
  2. Wait for the outcome of the objection. SARS will send you a notice of  allowance, disallowance or partial disallowance of your objection within 60 days of receiving it, subject to few exceptions where they will have a longer period. SARS may also request further substantiating documents in relation to your objection before making a decision.
  3. If your objection is disallowed or partially disallowed, you can appeal within 30 business days of the date of the notice of disallowance. You can do this online or at a SARS branch. Your appeal must include a notice of appeal form, a statement of the grounds for your appeal, and any supporting documentation.
  4. You can file your appeal online or at a SARS branch.
  5. The appeal will eventually be resolved either through alternative dispute resolution processes or through litigation in the Tax Board or Tax Court. 


Enhancing Transparency and Accountability in SARS Decision-Making

Transparency and accountability are crucial values for SARS decision-making since they affect taxpayers’ and the public’s trust in SARS as a tax authority.

SARS must give taxpayers and the general public with clear and timely information regarding its policies, methods, decisions, and actions, as well as explain and justify them. This includes giving reasons for evaluations and decisions, as well as responding to information or clarification requests.

SARS should assume responsibility for its decisions and activities, and transparently publish the results and outcomes.


Strengthening the Effectiveness of SARS Objections and Appeals

There are many approaches to improve the effectiveness of SARS objections and appeals in South Africa.

Taxpayers must register objections and appeals within the time restrictions specified, as well as give clear and relevant reasoning and proof for their disagreements. They should also employ alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which is often faster and less expensive than going to court.

It is critical for SARS to deliver accurate and fair assessments and conclusions, as well as convey them to taxpayers in a clear and timely manner. They should also consider objections and appeals fairly and impartially, and if possible, endeavour to resolve conflicts through ADR.


Efficiency and Timeliness of SARS Objections and Appeals

Because they affect the rights and interests of both taxpayers and SARS, efficiency and timeliness are critical features of the SARS objections and appeals procedure.

It ensures that taxpayers can exercise their right to contest an assessment or decision within a reasonable time frame and that their complaint or appeal is heard fairly.

Efficiency and timeliness ensure that SARS collects the correct amount of tax from taxpayers and that its rulings are enforced without unnecessary delay.

important things you should know

SARS Objections and Appeals FAQ:

Subject to a few very limited exceptions, If SARS is conducting an audit then SARS must first give you a letter in which SARS tells you what it is they intend to assess you to and why. You must then be given an opportunity to respond and state why you disagree with them.

There is no legislatively prescribed time period for SARS to conclude an audit. They are required by law to keep you updated on their progress every 90 days.

In short – it is an enforcement exercise where SARS tries to establish if you are funding your lifestyle with undisclosed income. For example, if you have an investment portfolio worth, say, R10m, SARS wants to see where you got the money to make the investment, whether that money is taxable, and if so, whether you duly declared it.

It is one of the most aggressive forms of financial penalty SARS imposes on taxpayers if SARS believes the taxpayer has done something that is not in line with tax law. The penalty ranges from 10% to 200% depending on the taxpayer’s level of blameworthiness.

Unless you settle the debt immediately, your status will change to non-compliant. If you cannot settle the debt immediately, you can still get your status compliant without making the payment if you submit and SARS approves what is called a suspension of payment request. There is also an automatic suspension rule which applies in most cases from the date you submit the suspension request, and therefore, submission of the request should make your status complaint.

When submitting an appeal, you must indicate whether you would like the dispute to be settled by way of something similar to mediation or though litigation. If you chose mediation (or ADR as it is called in tax law), SARS must respond to the appeal within 30 business days indicating whether they agree to ADR.

Yes. In addition to requesting condonation, various remedies are available to reduce the debt that is not subject to the time periods for objection and appeal.

That depends. Some disputes are resolved in the objection phase of a tax dispute, whereas others are only resolved in the appeal phase. If the dispute is resolved in the objection phase it should be resolved within a few months (roughly 3 to 6 months). If in the appeal phase, it can be anything between a few months to years later.

Yes, as long as the new ground relates to the same thing that was placed under objection.

Objections are typically decided on by an objection committee comprising several SARS officials. Your objection will typically be summarised by a SARS official who presents your case to the objection committee.

An objection is the first level of challenge taxpayers can launch against SARS’ assessments and decisions. Should the challenge on the first level fail, the next level to challenge an assessment or decision is called an appeal.

Subject to a few exceptions not mentioned here, SARS must finalise an objection within 60 business days (i.e. roughly three months) from the date of submission of a valid objection.

Subject to a few limited cases, objections are filed via e-filing.

SARS objections and appeals are legal processes that allow taxpayers to dispute certain assessments or decisions made by SARS if they are not satisfied with them.

SARS objections and appeals are important because they protect the rights of taxpayers and ensure that they are treated fairly and lawfully by SARS.

Any taxpayer who is aggrieved by an assessment or decision issued by SARS can file an objection or appeal, provided that the assessment or decision is subject to objection and appeal.

The grounds for filing an objection or appeal are that the taxpayer believes that the assessment or decision is incorrect in terms of the law or the facts or both.

The process for filing an objection or appeal involves submitting the prescribed forms and supporting documents to SARS within the specified time limits, either on eFiling or at a SARS branch office. SARS will then review the objection or appeal and issue an outcome.

The decisions made through SARS objections and appeals can be further challenged by applying for leave to appeal to a higher court.

If the SARS objections and appeals are successful, the taxpayer may be entitled to a refund of any overpaid tax, interest, or penalties, or a reduction or cancellation of any additional assessments or decisions made by SARS.

important things you should know

How do we work

  • Our fee structures for disputes take any one of three forms, to wit:
  • Fees based on professional time spent only.
    • When we engage on this basis, we will charge based on time spent at our respective hourly rates. 
    • We will, insofar as reasonably possible, provide you with a quote for expected time to be spent in assisting with your case at our respective hourly rates in advance.  
  • Fees based on professional time spent plus a success fee.
      • When we engage on this basis, we charge based on time spent in working on your case in the same way as in the first fee structure above and will, in addition to fees based on time spent, charge a success fee but only if the case is successfully resolved. The success fee will be the LOWER of a percentage of the saving or an amount equal to the fees charged based on time spent.   
      • We will provide a quote in advance insofar as is reasonably possible. 

  • Success fee only.
    • When we engage on this basis, we do not charge for time spent and will only charge if and to the extent the dispute is resolved successfully. If successfully resolved we charge a percentage of the saving achieved, which percentage we will agree with you on in advance.  

We are geared to deal with a tax dispute at almost any stage during a dispute with SARS, whether that be at objection or appeal or litigation.  Whichever option we work on will be discussed and agreed upon prior to project commencement.  Please feel free to contact our offices to hear which fee structure applies to your case and to get a quote from us. 

Please provide the following information, insofar relevant and possible, when enquiring about our service:

  • The assessment/(s) currently under dispute or which you intend to dispute (for example: the additional income tax assessment/(s) (ITA34)/VAT assessment/(s) (VAT217)/PAYE assessment/(s) (EMP217 etc)
  • The original assessment/(s);SARS’s “Audit findings” letter (if applicable)
  • SARS’s “Finalisation letter” (if applicable)
  • The underlying tax return/(s) submitted (for example the ITR14, VAT201 and/or EMP217)
  • If an objection has already been submitted, a copy of the objection
  • If SARS has already made a decision on the objection, the notice of outcome of objection
  • If an appeal has already been submitted, a copy of the appeal submitted
  • If SARS has already delivered their rule 31 statement, a copy of their rule 31 statement
  • A short explanation of the issue under dispute.

All information shared with us will be treated and regarded as strictly confidential. We will not charge or otherwise bill you until we have been formally engaged and you have formally accepted the terms of our services.

Our dispute resolution team is headed by our founder, Nico Theron Chartered Tax Advisor (SA).  Nico (BCom Law (cum laude); LLM (Tax Law); BCom Honours Taxation; MCom Taxation (SA and International Tax)) has over a decade’s experience in dealing with tax disputes, mainly for large corporate taxpayers. He is the author of a book that explains the tax dispute resolution remedies and which has been favourably reviewed by Advocate Julia Boltar.

The book is titled: Practical Guide to Handling Tax Disputes and has been published by the leading global provider of legal, regulatory and business information – Lexis Nexis. In addition, Nico is a member of Tax Administration Technical Work Group of the South African Institute of Tax Professionals where is also registered as a Chartered Tax Advisor (SA). Nico lectures on tax dispute resolution from time to time to post graduate tax students at the University of Pretoria and the University of Witswatersrand . Nico is well known for his strategic and pragmatic way of resolving tax disputes.

If you would like to meet us, click here and we will set up an introductory call with one of our senior team members – we won’t charge you for this as it is just an introduction. We are very transparent about our fees – you will never get a surprise invoice from us. You are also welcome to complete our brief wizard here if you want to send us more detail about your enquiry – again, we don’t charge for working through the brief at a high level. We shall make contact with you to set out fees and process – again, we are very transparent about fees with our clients.