Author: Dr Daniel Erasmus, Tax Court Practitioner.


In the USA, the IRS will never phone you due to secrecy and fraud scams. You will only get certified or registered mail.

SARS appears not to worry about third parties phoning taxpayers out of the blue on alleged tax debts dating back many many years. The telephone number (012) 432 5000 will call taxpayers and accountants out of the blue, wanting to obtain confidential information about a taxpayer!

But how do you know this is not a scam? Callers have an automated answering service. They also have a website. But most of us not IT experts. Who is to say the whole arrangement is not a scam?

Read more about allegations relating to SARS 3rd party collections.

Leading SA and International tax attorney Dr Daniel Erasmus advises: “Don’t give information over the phone, including your contact details. Let them follow the usual process of corresponding by secure mail through an official SARS office, to minimise fraud risk.

Apart from the fraud risk, be assured they will harass you with all the powers available to SARS on a tax debt from many many years ago. The Tax Administration Act of 2011 gives SARS tremendous powers.”

But conversely, the Tax Administration Act also states:

  • section 171 – SARS debts older than 15 years cannot be recovered;
  • sections 195 to 199 – SARS can write off debts that are not economical to recover;
  • section 79 – you are entitled to get a transcript directly from SARS as to your tax position, if you think something is amiss.

In addition, your rights as a taxpayer include:

  • being given the originating tax debt cause or assessment – where does it come from?
  • full information about that tax debt – is there a Letter of Findings as required in section 42 of the Tax Administration Act?

If any of this information is missing, you may not have to settle any tax debt.

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