FROM this month, a new system introduced by the SA Revenue Service (SARS) means that the transfer of any property will be subject to delay unless all the parties involved – including the estate agency – have their tax affairs in order.
So says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, who says: "A new transfer duty e-filing system is being introduced that requires the transferring attorney to fill in not only the tax numbers of the property buyer and seller, but also that of any estate agency involved – and to provide proof that those tax numbers are valid.
"Clearly, SARS wants to ensure that the tax returns and payments of everyone involved in a property sale are up to date."
Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, he says: "The tax authority has for some time now been checking to see that property sellers have paid any and all tax amounts owing before it will issue the transfer-duty receipts required for transfers to be finalised.
"It also has the power to instruct a transferring attorney to first pay any amount to tax that is outstanding before a property seller can receive the remainder of the proceeds of the sale."
Similarly, Everitt says, SARS has taken a dim view of home buyers who are trying to acquire a property while they have any tax debts outstanding – "and now, it seems, transfers could also be delayed or even stopped if the estate agency involved has not paid all its taxes – or unless it makes an arrangement to pay all or some of the commission due from the sale towards its tax debt.
"This is another reason for home sellers to deal only with reputable agencies whose financial affairs are absolutely in order, unless they want to risk having their transactions stalled by the Receiver and the financial damage that could entail."