How to become and remain SARS compliant as a Tax Practitioner in SA

How to become a Tax Practitioner

How to become and remain SARS compliant as a Tax Practitioner in SA

A Tax Practitioner, Tax Consultants and Tax Professionals are in high demand in South Africa. So if you want a career in Tax you need to be aware of the expectations.

However, legislation has changed which puts historical Tax Consultants and Professionals at risk if they are not constantly updating their skill sets and minimum qualifications and Professional Body memberships. SARS compliance is essential!

Challenges a Tax Practitioner / Professional faces

You may well have been practising as a Tax Practitioners, Tax Consultant or Tax Professional for many years, with a solid business and with existing long established clients.  Most likely, you are by now an employer with a team of people whose households rely on your Tax Business.

Over the years, legislation has changed in terms of the criteria to operate.  There are various criteria; belonging to a Professional Body (which is the easy part) as well as meeting the pre-requisite of having a minimum qualification. And this you might not have? Read here about professional bodies and their benefits.

So what is the expectation and qualifications necessary to become a Tax Practitioner?

Minimum Expectation:

  • You must belong to, or fall under the jurisdiction of a Recognized Controlling Body as referred to in S 240A of the Tax Administration Act.
  • Have the minimum qualifications and experience set by your Recognized Controlling Body.

For more detailed information, have a look at SAIT – the South African Institute of Taxation –

Guideline for a SARS Tax Practitioner

A Tax Practitioner is someone who completes SARS returns on behalf of third parties for reward/a fee. A person who completes their own tax returns or the tax returns of their employer is not required to register as a tax practitioner. 

Current legislation: Summary 

On 21 December 2012 President Zuma signed new requirements for all SARS tax practitioners into law. 

The two key requirements are: 

1. Tax practitioners must have at least an NQF Level 5 qualification; and

2. Must be registered with an authorised controlling body, which will administer, regulate, and manage the conduct of SARS tax practitioners.

Requirement 1:  Minimum Level 5 qualification

Tax practitioners are required by law to hold at least an NQF Level 5 qualification, and must register them with SARS. ICB students who have completed the National Diploma: Technical Financial Accounting NQF 5 or the National Diploma: Financial Accounting NQF 6 qualifications are eligible to register as a tax practitioner.

From the 1st July 2013 all tax practitioners had to update, and must continue updating, their academic qualifications with SARS. This can be done on e-Filing, along with any other details you need to update. 

Requirement 2: Registration with a controlling body 

SARS has appointed several professional bodies to control the registration of tax practitioners. ICB graduates can apply for SARS tax practitioner status through SAIT, if:

  1. You have successfully completed the National Diploma: Technical Financial Accounting NQF 5, or the National Diploma: Financial Accounting NQF 6 qualifications are eligible to register as a tax practitioner. 
  2. You meet SAIT’s criteria (see main criteria below). 

All existing SARS tax practitioners must have complied from 1 July 2013

By law, all ICB graduates who wish to act or continue to act as tax practitioners must do the following to register with SARS: 

  • Register with SAIT and comply with their registered tax practitioner requirements. These are specified by the Tax Administration Act, 2011 (as amended) and will be communicated to each applicant on a case-by-case basis.
  • Requirements include years of experience, qualification level, etc., and you will need to:                           
    • Confirm that you have no criminal record. At this stage, this is simply a question you answer on the SAIT application form; no proof is required yet.
    • Provide SAIT with a valid tax clearance certificate or explanation for failing to get one. If you have a dispute with SARS, then you will need to provide an explanation as to why tax clearance will only be received after the dispute has been resolved.
    • Complete SAIT’s CPD Competency Assessment, if you obtained your ICB qualification before 2008. If you obtained your ICB qualification after 2008, you do not need to undergo any further assessment.
Approval is subject to SAIT’s entry requirements.

Once SAIT has approved your accreditation, they will provide you with an accreditation number. You must add this to your SARS e-Filing profile when you register as a tax practitioner with SARS, or when you update your details with them.

Approval of tax practitioner status by SAIT is subject to you meeting all the membership requirements of SAIT, and is at their sole discretion.   

Are fees payable to SAIT? 

You will need to pay SAIT for registration as a tax practitioner and pay annual membership fees to retain your SAIT membership.


Fast Track Solutions 

The ICB has entered in an agreement with the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners (SAIT) who recognises the academic qualification of the ICB for meeting their entry requirements.  Applicants are still required to comply with SAIT’s practical requirements for memberships – To connect directly with SAIT, please contact them on

The ICB can fast track your qualifications with our Recognition of Prior Learning and Exemptions (RPL), so you can obtain the minimum requirements within a relatively short period of time.
For detailed information about RPL, please refer to our Youtube channel here, or visit our Knowledge Base to see all related articles or read here.

This will ensure you obtain the legislative requirements to comply with all the bylaws of the Tax laws and in finance, in general. This safeguards you and your business against risk and gives credibility to you and your business from a client perspective.  It also safeguards the employment of those under your areas of responsibility.

Register with ICB today to assist you with your journey to compliance with latest legislation.