The court was critical of SARS’ approach to the audit, which was to examine the accounts, and if a discrepancy was found by them which they did not understand, or for which, in SARS’ view, no adequate explanation was given, then they would raise an assessment for additional tax. This, however, left the taxpayer with a difficult and formidable onus to discharge in court in order to prove that SARS was wrong.
In its judgment the SCA stated that the raising of additional assessments must be based on proper grounds for believing that, for example, there is undeclared income or an unjustified claim for a deduction. SARS is obliged to engage with the taxpayer in an administratively fair manner by explaining the basis for the additional assessments.
Furthermore, SARS is under an obligation throughout the assessment process, up to the appeal itself, to indicate clearly what matters and which documents are in dispute, so the taxpayer knows what is needed to present its case.
SARS auditors are renowned for their steamroller arrogant approach.