SARS has just shortened its deadline for tax returns – here’s 8 other things you need to know

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has announced that it will be reducing the amount of time you have to file your returns next tax season.

In a statement released on Monday (4 June), SARS said that Tax Season 2018 will be shortened by three weeks, running from 1 July to 31 October 2018.

It added that this impacts all individual non-provisional taxpayers, and also applies to provisional taxpayers who opt to file at a branch.

This means that provisional taxpayers who use eFiling have until 31 January 2019 to file, while the deadline for manual submissions is 21 September.

“A shorter filing season allows additional time for SARS, taxpayers and the tax fraternity to deal with return verifications before most taxpayers go on the December holiday break,” it said.

“Often there are delays with taxpayers having to respond to our queries and requests over the holiday break. The quiet period after the first three months of tax season has now been removed resulting in efficient use of our resources.”

It added that it has increased the testing phases of its IT systems to ensure smooth running when Tax Season opens on 1 July.


Other initiatives

As part of the announcement, SARS announced a number of other changes which it was looking to introduce during the upcoming tax season.

These include:

1. SARS has sent personalised and direct communication to taxpayers who may not have to submit a return, based on information submitted during tax season 2017, setting out their specific tax obligations.

2. The taxpayer does not need to submit a return if ALL the following criteria apply:

  • The taxpayer’s total employment income / salary for the year of assessment (March 2017 to February 2018) before tax was no more than R350,000;
  • Employment income / salary for the year of assessment was received from one employer;
  • The taxpayer has no other form of income (e.g. car allowance, company car fringe benefit, business income, taxable interest or rental income or income from another job);
  • The taxpayer does not want to claim for any additional allowable tax related deductions or rebates (e.g. medical expenses, retirement annuity contributions, travel expenses, etc).

3. Verification letters will be more specific in terms of the supporting documents that SARS requires from taxpayers who may have been flagged for a specific risk. This will assist taxpayers to respond timeously and accurately.

4. Taxpayers will be encouraged to file via eFiling on their own. “We will support eFilers with the Help-You-eFile service which connects the taxpayer to one of our tax agents in real time via the contact centre while both are online. The taxpayer is then assisted each step of the way,” the revenue service said.

5. Tax returns for the current year of assessment will take priority over outstanding returns filed for prior years. “Unfortunately, experience has shown that the submission of prior year returns poses a risk to taxpayers that are taken in by scammers and other tax fraud that we have detected,” it said.

6. Where an assessment on one return may reflect a refund due, there may be instances where prior returns may reflect that the taxpayer needs to make a payment. These amounts will be offset against each other and the taxpayer will be notified of the outcome, SARS said.

7. Tax practitioners will be requested to strictly use eFiling for submitting taxpayer returns and avoid doing so at a branch.

8. Administrative penalties for late submissions will be imposed, as they have been in previous years.


Read: How to get a tax refund from SARS

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