Along with the new system of registering a taxpayer, SARS has indicated that it is tightening up its security over taxpayer identity. One of the areas they highlighted for attention was the registered representative of an entity. They have stated that this should not be the tax practitioner – but the public officer of the entity. The registered representative has to be validated by SARS and their information “linked” to the entity they represent.

The public officer of a company will need to be registered with SARS and will need to go to a SARS branch office to get “linked” to the company. They will need to take their identity document, power of attorney, board resolution, and/or official letter of appointment.
A public officer of an entity is the person who will take ultimate responsibility for the tax return. Such a person will then be able to allocate the rights to use the registration service of SARS eFiling to additional people, who can perform the same functions as them (including tax practitioners who are acting on behalf of a company). The new system therefore requires that an authorised person at a company must validate with SARS that a registered tax practitioner is mandated to act on behalf of the taxpayer.

Stricter control over sensitive information has also been introduced – should a taxpayer wish to register for the first time, or change his or her identity information, he or she will have to physically go to a SARS branch office to do so, as “physical authentication and visual inspection of relevant material will be required”.

Since the introduction of the new system in May 2014, there have been some hiccups. For example, where tax practitioners have not been recognised as practitioners for their existing clients on the eFiling system, or have been unable to validate the public officers of the companies they represent, and maintain legal entity details.

In an effort to regulate tax practitioners, accredited bodies, such as SAICA, have to ensure that their members are registered with SARS as tax practitioners. Those not registered with SARS and any recognised controlling body will not be allowed to practice. SARS is continuing to tighten up its procedures, particularly in regard to tax practitioners