Is A Lawyer a Public Officer?

10th September 2022

It would seem that the position of public officer in a company can be confusing to some people, leaving them uncertain about who can or can’t be a public officer.

At the outset it must be said that the role of Public Officer for any company is a very important one, in which the Public Officer becomes responsible for all tax-related issues for the company, and is considered by SARS to be the tax face of the company.

According to SARS, “A registered representative is a person who is appointed with full rights to act on behalf of another legal entity (e.g. Companies, Trusts, etc.), often Public Officers, Accounting Officers, or administrators, etc. 

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), has this to say: “A public officer is the representative taxpayer for a company, and therefore that person will serve as the face of the company for tax purposes. All actions carried out in his capacity as a public officer are deemed to have been done by the company. 

It stands to reason then that anyone being appointed as a public officer will need extensive tax and accountancy experience, as well as have a good understanding of how SARS expects registrations and payments to be treated with respect.

Is a lawyer a public officer?

Should a lawyer meet all the experience necessary to fulfil the role of public officer, then there is no reason that he or she can’t be appointed to this exacting position, although this is a rare occurrence.

Being appointed to the position of public officer in a company is a very high position, and in most instances is filled by company secretaries, directors, accountants or other people of such a standard.

In fact, not appointing and notifying SARS of the appointment of a public officer is so important, that it could end up costing you more than you should have to spend, especially if you’re just starting your business.

Under new administrative penalty provisions, if you don’t appoint a public officer within a month of starting your business or finding premises in South Africa, SARS could start off with a penalty of 250.00, plus the standard R25 per day that any company has to pay under these circumstances.

As you can see from this, a public officer carries a major load in any company, so much so that as far as SARS is concerned, any mistake made by the public officer is considered to have been made by the company.

General duties of a public officer

There is a lot on the plate of a public officer, but among some of them are the submission of annual and provisional tax returns, registering for VAT, Income Tax, PAY UIF and SDL. 

Included in this is registering you as an employee and taxpayer, monthly employees tax declarations, timeous payment of all taxes due to SARS, and so much more!

Contact Kilgetty Statutory Services for more information

If you’d like more information from professionals with a reputation for delivering the best in administrative, corporate and company secretarial services, contact the team at Kilgetty today.