The frustration experienced by taxpayers and the complexity of registering a trust as a taxpayer with the South African Revenue Service (SARS), has been widely publicised in recent years. Despite calls from industry bodies for a simplified approach (like companies and individuals), registering a trust as a taxpayer remains an overly complex process.
The inconsistency of information received by taxpayers between the SARS website and different branch offices is one of the areas of major concern. SARS’ website, for example, indicates that either certified or uncertified copies of identity documents are acceptable, whereas branch officers only accept certified copies. Another frustration is requirements that are seemingly not in line with legislation. As an example, SARS requires the appointment, by resolution, of a so-called “main trustee”, whereas the concept of a “main trustee” does not exist in the Trust Property Control Act 57 of 1998. The same act requires that a separate bank account must be used for deposits received by persons in their capacity as trustees of a trust, but SARS seemingly requires some trusts to have bank accounts while not imposing this requirement on others during registration.
Based on recent interactions with SARS, the following guidelines should assist taxpayers in registering trusts as a taxpayer. Although many of the requirements do not seem to agree with what is required by legislation (or sometimes common sense), a call on such formal matters at a branch office will not assist taxpayers and they should rather ensure that the documents below are at hand. All the documents indicated below must be in a certified form:
For good measure it is suggested, if possible, to take all original documents along to the branch as well (only present these if required and ensure it is returned). Also, ensure that a proof of registration and the taxpayer reference number of the trust is obtained after successful registration.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)