Ina Opperman
Business Journalist
2 minute read
19 Jan 2021
11:19 am

Sars apologises to taxpayers over service disruption

Ina Opperman

According to a statement from Sars, it was aware of Adobe’s notice to discontinue support for some of its products after December 2020 and had already migrated the vast majority of its most critical forms.

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has apologised to taxpayers for the disruption in services after support for the Adobe Flash Player platform was terminated on 12 January this year.

What went wrong

Until now, Sars had focused on the major tax types with the highest volumes, which are largely completed and operationally stable. However, Sars admits that it erred in its interpretation that the functionality would continue beyond the support date, creating frustration for many taxpayers.

Sars says it had planned the migration of all forms as a priority.

“However, as part of its mandate, Sars administers many taxes and compliance mechanisms with many submission requirements and interactions that require capturing and submitting data through many different forms.”

ALSO READ: Sars offices continue working working remotely for ‘foreseeable future’ due to Covid-19 surge

As well as the high number of forms required to be migrated from Adobe Flash Player to the chosen HTML5 platform, the migration itself is very complex and requires the development, testing and deployment of new forms, Sars explains.

These forms contain many data fields underpinned by thousands of technical, administrative and complex business rules to ensure integrity of data, efficient processing and accurate assessment results.

This complexity and the need to deliver properly tested and working forms required Sars to prioritise the major tax types with the highest volumes, with the remainder planned for 2021.

Fixing the problem

Sars will implement these remedial actions to assist taxpayers who still experience issues:

  • Sars has set up an eBooking system, accessible immediately, on its website at sars.gov.za to assist taxpayers facing challenges on how to navigate the system and find the necessary documents.
  • Affected taxpayers also have immediate access to a Frequently Ask Questions (FAQs) document, that only deals with Adobe Flash Player issues on the website sars.gov.za to help them in fulfilling their legal obligations.
  • By next week, Sars will establish a dedicated toll-free number to provide further assistance for taxpayers to resolve the Adobe flash Player challenges. Other enquiries can be directed to the Sars contact centre.
  • Sars has been engaging the Recognised Controlling Bodies (RCBs) to work together to find workable solutions for the tax practitioner segment. Sars has commissioned a virtual support hub to provide technical support to this cohort of taxpayers in the interim. The virtual support hub will be effective next week.

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