SARS warns of steep penalties for late filing as tax season comes to a close

Individual taxpayers have 30 days left to file their personal income tax returns.

In a statement on Monday (1 October), the South African Revenue Services (SARS) noted that tax season closes on 31 October for non-provisional taxpayers and for those provisional taxpayers who opt to file at a branch.

Provisional taxpayers ordinarily have until 31 January 2019 to file on eFiling only.

“The focus this filing season has been on the 24-hour eFiling channel which taxpayers can use at their leisure without having to go to a branch,” it said.

“eFilers are supported by the Help-You-eFile mechanism during business hours, which links them to a SARS contact centre agent who can assist the taxpayer to complete their tax return.”

It added that in the last month of filing season, the SARS contact centre will be available on Saturdays on 06 – 27 October from 8 am to 1 pm, to support taxpayers with eFiling.

“All SARS branches will also be open on Saturdays at the same time where taxpayers can make use of self-help kiosks to electronically file their personal income tax returns,” it said.

“It is important to note that the extended hours on Saturdays will only be used to assist with personal income tax returns.”

Penalties

To date, SARS is close to reaching the 3 million mark in tax return submissions for the current year of assessment.

This is approximately a 4% increase compared to the same time last year. Of these returns, 51% have been submitted through eFiling.

“Administrative penalties will be applied to late filing of tax returns and range from R200 to R5,000. In accordance with the Tax Administration Act No. 28 of 2011 (TAA), and specifically Section 234 (d), it is a criminal offence not to submit a tax return for any of the tax types a taxpayer is registered for.

“SARS has clamped down on outstanding tax returns to improve compliance, with 18 taxpayers prosecuted this year for not filing a return.

“These taxpayers, who were publicly named, had ignored SARS’ reminders that they were due to file a return, and now possess a criminal record. Fines ranging from R2,000 to R20,000, as well as admission of guilt fines were handed down by the courts, while some were imprisoned,” it said.

Scams

Sars also warned that taxpayers should be alert of scams where refunds are promised or where the taxpayer is informed of debt they owe SARS.

“These scams come in various forms including letters, email, website links and even individuals either posing as SARS officials, debt collectors or tax preparers,” it said.

“There are instances where tax preparers promise taxpayers a refund in return for a percentage of the refund as a fee. Fraud is often committed in the name of the taxpayer by claiming fraudulent expenses. When SARS does identify this fraud the taxpayer will be liable for the full debt as well as penalties.”

It added that taxpayers should always authenticate communication in relation to SARS via the contact centre or a SARS branch.


Read: Tax ombudsman to investigate SARS over growing complaints

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SARS warns of steep penalties for late filing as tax season comes to a close