What happens after you file your tax return?

As tax season has now opened, you may be wondering what happens after you have filed your tax return.

For a lot of people, submitting your return to SARS is not the end of the story, says Daniel Baines, author of How to Get a SARS Refund and tax consultant at Mazars.

There are essentially three routes that the South African Revenue Service can follow once you have filed your return:

No verification/audit

This is the ideal situation as SARS has not selected your return for verification/audit. This means that your 2018 tax return is final and in the event that you are due a refund, it should be paid out shortly after.

If you have not been selected for verification/audit and your refund has not been paid within 30 business days, you can phone SARS and ask them what is causing the delay. Often a refund is delayed as a result of your banking details reflecting as invalid on the SARS system.

Unfortunately, the only way to sort this out is to go down to SARS in person.


Once you have filed your tax return, you may get a letter from SARS requesting you to submit supporting documents. This means that you have been selected for verification.

If you receive a letter such as this, it is very important that your supporting documents are submitted timeously; failing which, SARS will disallow any credits or deductions that you have claimed in your return.

Common examples of supporting documents for individual, salaried taxpayers are: medical aid certificates, travel logbooks and retirement annuity contribution certificates.


This is where SARS wishes to delve into your tax return and gather further information about what you have declared. An audit will generally ask questions relating to, for example, your rental property that forms part of your tax return. You will need to explain your circumstances to SARS and back up all your expense claims with invoices.

It is, therefore, preferable to have all of your invoices and supporting documents ready before filing your return in case SARS selects your return for an audit.

So long as you have all your supporting documents and you can correctly answer SARS’ questions, then there should be nothing to worry about if you are selected for an audit.

Be sure to submit your answers and documents to SARS timeously as a failure to do so can result in you having to go down the dispute resolution route.

Read: How to get a tax refund from SARS

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What happens after you file your tax return?