Public Officer Services In Terms Of The Income Tax Act

All Companies registered in South Africa are required to have a public officer. A public officer of a company must be appointed within one month after the company begins to carry on business or acquires an office in South Africa.

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 their capacity as a public officer are deemed to have been done by the company. Failure to do so will result in the Commissioner designating a director, member (in respect of a close corporation) or the company secretary as public officer.

To qualify as a public officer a person must be a natural person who is a resident in South Africa.

The public officer is responsible for attending to the tax affairs of a company, and is deemed to be answerable for the numerous activities and duties which are required to be performed by the company, including, inter alia, the submission of annual tax returns and provisional tax returns; registration as a taxpayer and as an employer; submission of employees tax monthly declarations and annual returns; notification of address changes and acceptance of notices served against the company.

The Income Tax Act No 58 of 1962 (the Act) provides that no appointment of a public officer shall be deemed to have been made until notice thereof specifying the name of the public officer and an address for service or delivery of notices and documents has been given to the Commissioner.

In the event that a public officer is not appointed, penalties will be incurred by the company.

The role the public officer plays is of extreme importance and companies have to ensure that a public officer is appointed in due time, as the consequences of not doing so and not providing the SARS with the relevant information may result in hefty penalties which could have been avoided.

Our office can assist and provide a public officer if all the directors of a company incorporated in South Africa are not residents of South Africa.