Can a Public Officer Be Removed?

26th November 2022

Let’s start with what a public officer is, before we move on to the question; can a public officer be removed? A public officer is the primary contact person with SARS, who considers the public officer to be the person responsible for all tax related issues to do with a business.

A public officer has to be registered with the South African Revenue Services, who will either approve or not of your chosen representative, considering that everything done tax-wise by your public officer, is deemed to have been carried out by your company.

This means that the position of public officer in any company is one that comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility and trust, on the part of the owners or directors, and it is definitely a position to consider well before applying for it.

Being accountable to SARS in terms of all the tax matters pertaining to the company, and having the authority to act on behalf of the company, shows how important the role of a public officer really is.

Can a public officer be removed?

Like any position of extreme responsibility and trust, it stands to reason that if a public officer is not performing the duties expected of him or her, and bringing the company into disrepute, or costing the company money due to penalties for late payments or non-payments of taxes, a public officer can be removed from their position.

How this happens will depend on the individual company’s legalities and approach towards removing someone from such an important position. 

There are always steps that have to be followed, from a legal standpoint, when anyone is fired from their position, however, that again depends on the company’s internal disciplinary procedures.

If we look at just a few of the duties a public officer is responsible for, it’ll be easier to understand that if taxes are paid late or aren’t paid, and penalties are incurred, the public officer obviously has to go:

  • Income Tax, VAT, UIF, PAYE Registrations, including, should it be necessary, de-registration of these
  • Payment of all taxes due to SARS on time. If payments are late, there will be penalties incurred
  • Submitting of annual & provisional tax returns, employee monthly tax declarations & reconciliations, dividends tax
  • Keeping SARS updated with any change that may occur with the registered particulars of the company, such as the address, name change, acceptance of notices that may be served against the company and verification of bank details

Who wins & who loses with SARS in the end, when mistakes are made?

SARS has the power to collect any tax debt a company has run up due to failure to be proactive with their tax payments and registrations, so much so, that they can collect this debt from the shareholders, the public officer, anyone involved in doing anything wo help the company hide assets in order to avoid allowing SARS to collect the debt, and finally, anyone who is regularly involved in managing the financial affairs in an overall position.

There is no way around it. SARS expects companies to appoint a public officer within a month of starting to carry out business, or having secured business premises in South Africa.

If any company neglects to do this, the penalties start, accruing every day, until the public officer is registered with SARS!

Contact Kilgetty Public Officer Services today, to find out more about how they can streamline a tailored plan for all your public officer requirements.