Outrage as taxpayers spend hours in long queues at SARS

2009-07-21 00:00

MARITZBURGERS have had to put up with extremely long queues at the SA Revenue Service (SARS) office in Pietermaritz Street, only two and a half weeks after the launch of the 2009 tax season.

Over the past few weeks, scores of taxpayers have had to spend up to seven hours waiting outside.

One of the main reasons for the problem appears to be that some staff members from the Pietermaritzburg Office were on a training course up until early this month, during what is arguably one of the busiest periods of the year for authorities, taxpayers and tax practitioners.

High volumes of clients and a lack of space at the SARS Pietermaritzburg office appear to be contributing factors.

The Witness recently visited the agitated taxpayers standing in the queue and encountered a scene that rivalled the lengthy queues at the notorious local Home Affairs office.

Many disgruntled taxpayers said they waited in line outside the office for six to seven hours, adding that they were not informed of the reason for the delay.

Pinky Ngcobo-Gamede told The Witness that she spent almost six hours outside in the queue and only left the SARS building at 3 pm.

“There were only three people working, out of 11 maybe. It’s very unfair on us.”

A man who visited the office to pick up a tax clearance certificate was outraged when, after queuing for about six hours, he was told that he did not have to wait in the queue to pick up his documents.

“I tried to go into the office in the morning, but the security guard would not allow me in,” said the man.

Tracey Vorster said she spent almost five hours at SARS.

“Only once I got in did the line move quickly. There were only about 12 [staff members] inside,” Vorster said.

In response, SARS told The Witness that the office is busy because it is currently filing season, adding that no agents or consultants are on training at present.

“The training started on April 1, and was scheduled to be completed by end of June. Unfortunately it had to be extended for a week,” SARS said.

It added that the training was completed at the end of the first week of July.

“Agents [and] consultants are now available to service taxpayers,” SARS added.

It acknowledged that there is not enough space at the office.

“We are rolling out plans for additional space to accommodate taxpayers during this period. From Monday [yesterday] we will be using the third floor where taxpayers will be assisted. We are also training more temporary staff to assist and will be working next week to reduce queuing times,” SARS said.


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