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Tuesday May 03, 2011

Conveyancers slam Sars' transfer duty e-filing

Criticism about the functionality of the new property transfer duty e-filing system introduced by the SA Revenue Service (Sars) last month has escalated.

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) on Friday added its voice to complaints that serious problems were being experienced by conveyancers with the new system.

Adrian Lackay, a spokesman for Sars, earlier last week denied there were any problems with the new system and maintained it was working normally.

However, Nano Matlala and Praveen Sham, LSSA cochairpersons, on Friday confirmed they were also aware of serious problems being experienced with the system.

They were responding to an article published in Business Report last week, in which Pretoria Attorneys Association chairman Jody van Broekhuizen and Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa president Andrew Golding, who is also the chief executive of the Pam Golding Property Group, highlighted the problems being experienced with the system.

Matlala and Sham said the LSSA had been in continuous engagement with Sars and had on a regular basis since the beginning of the year submitted problems being experienced by conveyancers to Sars.

They said this resulted in awareness being raised about the problems and Sars making a concession that manual submission would be accepted until March 31 to iron out glitches in the system.

However, they said the LSSA continued to receive many complaints from practitioners about the ineffective functionality of the system, which had been brought to the attention of Sars.

"The LSSA is concerned that members of the public are being prejudiced by the delays in registrations of transactions as a result of conveyancers not being able to obtain transfer duty receipts.

"Complex transactions where there may be deviations from the normal transactions provided for in the online system require face-to-face interaction with a knowledgeable person and the LSSA has suggested to Sars that a dedicated person should be made available at all the Sars offices in major centres for extraordinary transactions," they said.

Hester Gouws, a conveyancer at a Pretoria attorneys firm, said she had logged a complaint with Sars about its "non-compliance, non-service" e-filing system out of "great frustration and desperation".

Gouws said Sars' nonexistent service was causing her serious strain "to such an extent that it's interfering with my quality of life as I lie awake every night worrying about when the transfer duty receipts will be issued".

She said that she also worried about "what I'm going to tell my clients as to why we're not able to obtain the transfer duty receipts from your offices since you've been telling the media/newspapers a completely different story as to the efficiency of your e-filing system".

Gouws said she had done everything humanly possible and had phoned Sars every day without any success despite being issued with case numbers and empty promises that someone would contact her.

"To date, absolutely no one (has) contacted me," she said.

Responding to the new complaints, Lackay reiterated that Sars' system did not indicate any system errors with transfer duty payments and stressed the way complaints were raised by various parties was unconstructive. "If we don't get specifics of what people are struggling with, we cannot assist. We will meet the Law Society as soon as possible," he said.

Lackay said Sars was prepared to meet and assist any other organisation that encountered problems but stressed they needed to contact Sars.

Business Report


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