SARS requested additional documentation but didn't tell me

I am a provisional taxpayer... I work freelance and my income fluctuates. I've been doing my own tax through efiling for several years now, and have never had a problem. So this year, I send off my return on January 29 (yes, I know, leaving it till the last minute... every year I
promise I won't do that!!), and my assessment comes back, I'm owed R120.56. The amount is so small because I actually already did all the calculations in order to make my third provisional payment by the September deadline, so as not to incur any interest.

Right - I thought that was it. Then a few weeks ago, I don't know what made me think "Hmmm, did I ever actually get my refund from Sars?", so I logged on to efiling to discover.... an additional assessment, telling me I owe around R35,000. They have disallowed pretty much all
my deductions - the most significant being my RA contributions, but they also disallowed my home office expenses and depreciation. Turns out they requested additional documents after my first assessment... but NO ONE EVER TOLD ME THAT. How was I supposed to guess they wanted documents?

So eventually, I manage to actually find the letters on efiling asking for the documents. It seems I had 21 days since the first letter, then another letter was sent and I had 21 days after that letter. Since I didn't send in anything, they disallowed everything and re-assessed.

So, my questions for you are:

1. Aren't they supposed to email me or send me a registered letter to tell me they want additional documentation? How am I supposed to just sniff this when they sent me an assessment which seemed to indicate all was in order?

2. If I submit all my documents now, will they look at them and re-assess me? Does this have to take the form of an Objection via efiling?

3. If yes to (2) above, what's your experience of how long this takes? I am actually out of the country until the beginning of August, so I have to do everything electronically and can't really follow up by calling or going into a branch. I have to make payment of the extra tax by May 31st in order not to get charged interest, so I'm wondering if, in your experience, it would get sorted out before then?

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TaxTim TaxTim says:
10 May 2013 at 11:12

This is a typical case and one of the reasons we created TaxTim is because of the low level of communication between SARS and the taxpayer. Furthermore it seems the online eFiling system occasionally does not deliver some of the important letters and notices. Do they have your correct email address or phone number? You should have received an email or SMS informing you that a request for supporting documentation letter is waiting for you on eFiling?

You can dispute the additional assessment by clicking the dispute button on the ITA34, you will then complete an NOO1 notice of objection and it is here you must include a letter of the events detailing everything you have told me as well as submit all the supporting documentation they originally asked for.

This is not a speedy process, but follow the steps and be patient and hopefully this will all be taken care of at some stage, but in your favor.

Let me know if I can assist further.

Rob says:
10 May 2013 at 11:14

Yes, Taxtim is absolutely fabulous!

OK, I wasn't sure where on efiling to lodge the objection but I see it now. I understand it will take a while - luckily I have the spare cash to make payment now because as I understand it, it's better just to pay to avoid further interest charges, and then hopefully they'll refund me when they agree to my objection, whenever that may be :-) I must say I understand them not allowing some deductions without documentation, but I don't understand all of the penalties listed on the new assessment. Oh well... I guess trying to understand it all is futile, just make the objection and hope.

Thanks for your prompt reply.

TaxTim TaxTim says:
10 May 2013 at 11:14

The penalties are for what they call, "failing to take due care" in completing your return which can result in penalties of 50% of what would have been the tax saving. The process is complicated and unfortunately not designed for the individual taxpayer to really understand. That's why we are here to help!

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