SARS reels in a million more taxpayers

 ·8 Nov 2023

The South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) attempt to clamp down on non-compliance over the past year seems to be working, with around one million more non-provisional taxpayers submitting returns compared to last year.

According to SARS, it had received seven million non-provisional returns from compliant taxpayers, who have fulfilled their legal obligations by filing their personal income tax (PIT) returns by the end of the filing season.  

It added that 88% of returns were processed online via the eFiling and MobiApp platforms; 93% of returns were processed in five seconds; 79% of refunds were processed in 72 hours, and more than R29 billion has already been paid in refunds.

The increase in compliant PIT returns represents one million more than the six million reported last year.

“SARS Auto-Assessment is also gaining traction, with four million taxpayers receiving assessments already calculated in the current year, up from three million the previous year.

“The rapid development of data science, algorithms, machine learning and the various third-party data sources has enabled SARS to provide taxpayers with a smooth and seamless service experience.

“While these digital platforms have been used to give the best service to compliant taxpayers, it has also allowed SARS to identify categories of non-compliant taxpayers,” SARS said on Tuesday.

SARS has seen an increase in the levels of compliance; however, it remains concerned about non-compliant taxpayers who have not submitted a return as required.

SARS has identified the following in relation to non-compliant taxpayers:

  • Registered taxpayers who have not, for whatever reason, filed a return;
  • Taxpayers who have not made a payment where it was due;
  • Taxpayers who are not registered as taxpayers, despite being economically active; and
  • Taxpayers who may in the past not have been required to file but receive income from employment, investments, rental, or other income; certain taxpayers may also have received shares or have active business interests that push them above the income threshold, which means they have to file.

“Non-compliant taxpayers are reminded that they do face legal consequences for failing to register, file a return or make payments where applicable.  

“These taxpayers are urged to regularise their tax matters as a matter of urgency and are encouraged to approach the Voluntary Disclosure (VDP) unit before SARS contacts them.

“If such a taxpayer’s VDP application reaches SARS after SARS has contacted them, the VDP option falls away, and their applications will not be accepted. SARS is willing and ready to assist taxpayers who want to be compliant. Where taxpayers wilfully and intentionally ignore their legal obligations, SARS will act sternly,” SARS said.

SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter expressed his appreciation to compliant taxpayers who have discharged their legal obligations.

“Some taxpayers are intentionally non-compliant by making false declarations to SARS or plainly ignoring their legal obligations. Those who engage in such conduct must know that what they are doing is, in fact, not only a civil offence but also a criminal offence, which will be met with a proportionate response. The courts have confirmed that SARS is acting lawfully by confronting non-compliance,” Kieswetter said.

Read: Major tax squeeze coming for South Africa

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