With major system changes over the past 24 months and the move to electronic filing, we have relooked at our communication style and in the process tracked and analysed our telephone calls. Disturbingly 87% of these calls are considered unnecessary having already been clearly and completely answered in other forms. This results in our lines being blocked and frustrating those with valid or important questions. On average we receive 24 calls a day or a call every 20 minutes! Many occurring simulatenously. This creates major problems as the average tax/accounting problem requires a minimum of 30 minutes uninteruppted concerntration.
1. "I dont know what forms to complete"- our new checklists have been carefully designed to be user friendly and GUIDE you through the process as painlessly as possible!
2. "I am not sure what documents & information to supply" - well exactly the same info as is ALWAYS required; namely ALL of it - if in doubt merely include the extra info!
3. "I get your emails but I never open them, now what do I do. Cant you rather phone me?" -Well just maybe opening them would be a good idea, and no, with all the changes coming thick and fast its NOT possible to phone every client every time there is a change. We are dealing with a MINIMUM of 50 emails and 30 calls a day, many of them covering questions just like these!
4. "What period does the tax year cover?" - the fiscal year, no change here; namely March 2007 to February 2008!
5. "I am not sure how to electronically pay SARS my outstanding taxes" - thats dependant on your Bank BUT we do supply the correct EFT/deposit codes and instructions with ALL outstanding tax notices - note cheque payments are not longer acceptable.
6. "I havent received my refund yet!" - SARS pay refunds directly into your bank account AND we rely on you to advise us when this happens as we follow-up on outstandings regularly (weekly) with SARS!
7. "I have left things to the last minute again but my tax will be submitted on time, wont it?" - submissions are scheduled based on receipt of ALL the documents, missing information further delays the process. The sooner you get ALL the information to us the sooner we are able to submit. We DONT leave things to the last minute BUT we do work strictly to multiple deadlines - timing is everything!
8. "Oh look what I have just found, do you need these (IRP5, IT3, RA's)?" - well yes but only if you want your tax to be correctly calculated and avoid queries from SARS. Remember ANY missing documents drops you down our schedule!
9. "I forgot to mention this important fact ... will it affect my tax?" - Well just maybe!?
10. "I popped in unexpectedly and nobody was there!" - we work strictly to appointment besides being onsite often. Would you just 'pop in' at your dentist, doctor, attorney or even your mechanic without an appointment? Why would we be any different?
11. "I called for advice and then got billed?" - professional advice whether by phone or even email is just that professional advice, and here we are dealing with your finances and tax! Have a look at what your dentist, doctor, hairdressor and motor mechanic charge per hour - you will be shocked!
12. "My colleagues always get big refunds, how come I dont?" - firstly your colleagues are certainly not telling you everything and secondly they are probably not being honest with their claim. Besides if that were true how come their accountant isnt doing your tax too?!
13. "I am due a refund, should I check my bank statement everyday?" - if that revs your motor then by all means, otherwise at month end will do just fine.
14. "You have asked me for my annual paye and proof of my August provisional tax payment, where do I get these from ?" - Pardon??? Your monthly PAYSLIP for paye AND your bank statement/ deposit slip, eft receipt or cheque book for provisional tax paid!!!
15. "You said you would email me! Should I just keep checking my emails until I get it?" YES, and dont forget to breathe inbetween...breathe in...breath out...breath in...."warning please repeat continuously"
16. "You emailed and sms me details of my tax refund and expected receipt date - I am calling to ask what must I do?" Firstly why call - it was just a courtesy message to keep you posted, avoiding the waste of a call; secondly it was clearly spelt out so there is NOTHING more you need do!
17. "You sent me a spreadsheet but when I print it all the columns are too narrow and the numbers arent shown" The solution couldnt be easier; simply open the spreadsheet and widen the columns before printing!
18. "We approved our Vat submission for last month, could you please confirm the amount processed" This was clearly indicated on the approved e-release form along with expected release and payment dates, we ONLY need to know if the amount doesnt get deducted OR is different to the amount advised.
19. "As agreed we decided to submit our own provsional tax returns a year ago but havent received or completed a return since, can you please send us the form?" Simple answer is NO, when we transfered the provisional tax profile back to you it is no longer managed by us and you would need to liase directly with SARS. Note: Onus of compliance is on the taxpayer and forms must be completed and returned whether or not SARS issue them. Very convenient in deed.
20. "We have estimated our own provisional tax, and hope its ok, do you think so?" NO IDEA as we didnt do the estimate or have sight of the calculation, but for your sake we hope so too, as if its not 90% accurate you are in for a 20% penalty plus interest.
21. SARS have now resorted to sending general payment reminders by SMS, further vidicating our suggestion that SARS are critically short of funds. This would be a great idea IF and ONLY IF the messages included a name or reference. On one day alone we received 33 sms messages all identical and with no indication of who was being reminded. Brilliant SARS absolutely brilliant!!! Just another daily reminder of the dumbing down of SARS and society at large.
22. "Admittedly I dont answer or even read all of your comminiques but I am extremely frustrated you dont always answer my emails immediately" Well what's good for the goose...BUT fear NOT we address ALL emails as soon as is unhumanly possible. Key accounts do however get priority!
23. "You have sent me an urgent tax payment advise a week ago but I only opened in now and the payment date has passed!!!" Well maybe opening the mail when yo get it would be a good idea for future.
24. "How do I make payment to SARS, you normally tell me and all this form shows are the banks, and transfer codes?" Well well, what do you think those transfer codes are that you have JUST read to me?
25. Your last email reply stated your were running some complex calculations for me but I am irratated you dont answer my call" Well complex calculations that TIME, EFFORT and uninterrupted CONCERNTRATION, besides which what's the point of shooting the breeze BEFORE the said calculations are complete, did you noit get to the bit about me calling you once they were ready ???
26. I have just received an email from you, please could you give me your email address so I can replay! Rather just click the 'reply' button its much easier that way.
27. You have sent me documents to sign, must all the people indicated sign? Well no I was just trying to trick you by clearly indicating all the signatures required. Feel free to ignore the instruction completely and just sign if you are in the mood.
Editors Comment: Surely at least one of these if not all should win the Darwin Award for stupid and poijtnless questions. Its no small wonder the world is in such a mess.