The new income tax season is here: dates and processes explained

 ·30 Jul 2020

South African Revenue Service commissioner Edward Kieswetter has provided an updated breakdown of the 2020 income tax season.

In a media presentation on Thursday (30 July), Kieswetter said that SARS had to readjust the filing system in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with a focus on the safety of SARS employees and taxpayers.

He added that the revenue collector is following a system of voluntary compliance and is working under the assumption that most taxpayers are honest.

“We are committed to making this a seamless experience for most taxpayers, while at the same time, we want to make it hard for non-compliant taxpayers who defraud us.

“It is not right that these fraudsters get away, and we would like to see more of them face charges and brought to book.”

He added that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the revenue collector to step up the pace of modernising its tax systems.

“We literally want all taxpayers to complete their tax season from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”

He added that all physical tax filers will be encouraged to move digitally, with SARS now offering 30 additional features online.

New tax changes explained

Kieswetter explained that key to this change will be the use of auto-assessments.

These will allow SARS to complete a tax return for more than three million individual taxpayers through data collected from third-parties such as medical aids and insurers.

Individual taxpayers will receive an auto-assessment SMS starting in August. It will direct you to your eFiling or SARS MobiApp profile to review, accept or edit it.

Where there are errors, taxpayers will be given opportunities to correct issues, while the new system will allow data to be processed within seconds.

Kieswetter further pledged that seven out of every ten taxpayers will receive their refunds within 72 hours, provided no other data is required

He added that under the new system, fraudulent taxpayers will face increased punishments, with SARS also ‘naming and shaming’ those who commit offences.

Kieswetter said that the individual income tax return filing dates are as follows:

  • 1 August – 31 August: Mass launch of the auto-assessment process;
  • 22 October 2020: Closing date for taxpayers who cannot file electronically can do so at a SARS branch by appointment;
  • 16 November 2020: Closing date for taxpayers who file online using Mobi app or e-filing.
  • 29 January 2021: Closing date for provisional taxpayers who file electronically.

Read: A look at the new proposed taxes for South Africa

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