SARS is moving to the next phase of the tax season – what you need to know

The South African Revenue Services (SARS) has announced that the 2020 filing season will begin on 1 August 2020.

In a statement on Thursday (25 June), the revenue collector said that it has made a number of changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic to continue with effective service to all taxpayers while improving compliance levels.

“These trying times have imposed the challenge on the organisation of providing a seamless and effortless service to taxpayers while protecting our own employees and taxpayers from infection.

“Among the many innovations that have been implemented under the lockdown, is a service through which taxpayers who register for eFiling can obtain a taxpayer number.”

“We also introduced one seamless filing season, which started on 15 April through August 2020, to ensure employers are compliant and third party information is submitted, ahead of individual taxpayers submitting their returns.”

Below the revenue collector outlined the various phases of the new tax season and what taxpayers should expect.


Phase 1 – Complete

SARS said that the first phase of the 2020 filing season was allocated to employers and other third-party data providers like medical schemes, retirement annuity funds and banks.

During this phase, these third-party data providers had to file their data to SARS on or before 31 May 2020.

“The majority did so successfully, but there are those who failed in their duty, making it exceedingly difficult for SARS to assess their employees and other taxpayers affected by this non-compliance,” it said.


Phase 2 – Active

SARS said that the next phase has now commenced, during which SARS will be validating the third-party data, and following up on employers and others who failed in their duty to file their data to SARS on time.

“It is a criminal offence to deduct employees’ tax (PAYE) from employees but not pay it over to SARS. It is also a criminal offence to fail to submit a return to SARS when required to do so.

“But above all, failures of this nature have a significant impact on affected taxpayers to meet their tax obligations.”


Phase 3 – 1 August

SARS said that the third phase of the filing season will begin on 1 August 2020.

“On that day, a significant number of taxpayers can expect to receive a SMS that SARS has prepared their tax returns for them, and that a draft assessment is available on eFiling or Mobiapp to consider.

“For those that accept the draft assessment, there will be no need to complete and file a tax return, and if a refund is due, the refund will follow within the 1st week of August.”

SARS said that this will be known as ‘the auto-assessment process’ .

A taxpayer will be eligible for auto-assessment if their respective third-party data providers have filed all third-party data in respect of that taxpayer, it said.

Taxpayers who, for example, have not yet received their IPR5 certificates are advised to immediately approach their employers and insist that the IPR5’s are issued to them.

“During August, taxpayers who have not yet been auto-assessed but in respect of whom a complete set of third-party data has subsequently become available, will be invited by SARS to file early.”


Phase 4 – 1 September

The fourth phase of filing Season 2020 starts on 1 September 2020.

“Taxpayers who have not been auto-assessed, or who have not accepted an auto-assessment, can then start to file via eFiling or MobiApp,” SARS said.

“Taxpayers who cannot file through any of our digital platforms will be permitted to visit a SARS branch by appointment only.”

The revenue collector further encouraged all taxpayers to continue to use the ever-evolving digital channels in order to transact with SARS.


Read: SARS will start issuing ‘auto-assessments’ to taxpayers later this year – here’s how it works

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SARS is moving to the next phase of the tax season – what you need to know