Interview with a Tax Practitioner, Sharon Terblanche

In September we did an interview with a Tax Practitioner – and our Tax Workshop facilitator – Sharon Terblanche.

Tax is a complicated topic for many people, so we wanted to sit down and chat to Sharon about her career as a Tax Practitioner, how she works with SARS and what advice she would give to taxpayers.

Sharon began her career as a Tax Practitioner when SARS began it’s e-filing system. A few years later SARS required Tax Practitioners to join a governing body. Sharon then began studying tax and became more involved in taxation.

Best and worst aspects of the job

When asked what she enjoys about her work, Sharon says that she enjoys working with figures and meeting all sorts of interesting people. Her least favourite part of the job is something we can all relate to in some sense: running into a dead end with SARS. Sharon says that occasionally when conversing with SARS she interacts with a person who cannot give her any relevant information regarding her query and she often has to phone again and again ,and wait in the SARS queue once more. She says that previously you could wait up to 60 minutes for your call to be answered, but that luckily these days SARS has a call back system which has made life easier.

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Interesting stories regarding SARS

“Apparently I have three arms… I spoke to one of the SARS agents who needed me to hold a letter in one hand, my ID in the other hand and with my third hand take a selfie. Now if she had said let someone else take a photo of you I would have understood, but the words selfie were specifically used.”

Sharon says that most of her clients find it frustrating to talk to a SARS official, but that she tries to find the humor in the situation.

“There was the time the SARS official kept talking about Cell C and in the end I asked him what he meant and all the time he was trying to say selfie and I kept hearing Cell C. We had a good laugh when I clicked ‘selfie’, and boy did I end up getting a lot of info from him just because I laughed about my own silliness.”

Clearly Sharon can see the light side of any situation, no matter how frustrating! It seems like a sense of humor is an important quality to have when working in tax and finance.

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The Mastering It Tax Workshop

Sharon is our lovely Tax Workshop facilitator – happening on a monthly basis (check our Facebook event page!). She walks us through how to handle and approach tax, and helps to demystify the SARS website, literally step-by-step!

When asked what motivated her to share her knowledge with others, she said:

“I think everyone needs to have a better idea of how the income tax systems work, if only to decide I can do it myself or maybe to be reassured that it is better to have a professional help you.”

Sharon left us with some of her top tax tips:

  • Keep all your expense slips electronically as till slips tend to fade.
  • Don’t try to take shortcuts, follow the letter of the law to avoid tax mishaps.
  • SARS does not accept “I did not know” as an excuse.

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