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Final SARS regulations for keeping electronic records

Sonja FrankSince our previous article on this topic had been published, the regulations relating to the electronic storage of records in terms of the Tax Administration Act were amended and the final regulations published in the Government Gazette No 35733 of 1 October 2012.

The amendments represent a definite improvement, especially when it comes to the keeping of computer software and hardware manuals as well as written documentation. The final regulations state that a person who uses computer software or electronic platforms that are commonly recognised in South Africa, need not keep the above-mentioned documentation.

What constitutes “commonly recognised” computer software or electronic platforms is debatable, but it will undoubtedly include programmes such as Microsoft Office and Pastel.

In cases where the computer software and/or electronic platforms are not commonly used in South Africa, where it is specifically altered or adapted for a taxpayer, or where it is created or designed for that taxpayer, the software manuals should be kept and written documentation prepared. The written document should comply with the same requirements as set out in the draft regulations. It should, amongst other things, contain a description of:

  • how transactions are created, processed and stored and how often they are stored;
  • the format used to store and archive records that includes a description of the media, software and hardware used in the process;
  • a data dictionary that explains how records are indexed when created, processed, stored or backed-up;
  • the procedures and protocols in place to prevent the unauthorised deletion, alteration and destruction of records and reports.

The other draft regulations in this regard have been retained in the final regulations. (The draft regulations were discussed in our article in the October issue of this newsletter, available at

For a better understanding of the new Tax Administration Act and its regulations, we provide practical in-house training workshops. For more information contact Sonja Frank or Estian Haupt of Exceed Tax and Advisory Services, tel. 021 882 8140 or e-mail