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Having your property valued for Capital Gains Tax? Using a non-professional valuer could lead to a dispute with the SA Revenue Services down the line, possibly incurring penalties for the property owner and leaving the valuer liable. This follows recent findings by a Cape Town law firm that estate agents can legally charge for property valuations for the purposes of capital gains tax (CGT).

Gert Wilkinson, valuer with Adval Valuation Centre in Cape Town, says there will be no protection for the property owner in case of a dispute with SARS. "The mere fact that estate agents are advised, by a legal expert, to hide behind a disclaimer should serve as a warning in itself. The existence of such a disclaimer renders the valuation as a document for purposes of a legal dispute worthless," Wilkinson says. "The implication of this is that any valuation containing this disclaimer could be rejected by SARS. Should this happen, the property owner may incur huge costs, not only in the form of excessive tax, but also by having to pay a penalty.

"As a layman I am not convinced that an expert such as an estate agent has the moral ground to hide behind the suggested disclaimer," he says. "The public perceives them as property experts and unless they make the disclaimer available to the client before instructions are finalised, the client has the right to believe that he has employed the services of an expert." That, he says, gives the public the right to recourse against the agent as well.

A further implication is that a "non-professional valuer" may produce a valuation that is insufficiently motivated simply because he/she had not been trained to properly motivate the value determination. "In twenty years time when questions are asked by SARS, which cannot be answered, the valuation will most certainly be rejected." He warns that when, at the time of disposal of the assets in the future, the valuation is not recognised, there will legally be no protection for the property owner.

Jerry Margolius, another Cape Town valuer, says the issue is still being debated. "I am of the opinion that the Receiver could adjust the valuation. You will have an opportunity to object if he has not exercised his mind objectively, which is going to be very difficult to prove." Source: Rode staff, 5 November 2001. ( ww.moneymax.co.za)