SARS warns of refund scam in South Africa as tax deadline looms

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has issued a warning to taxpayers to be wary of persons posing as ‘tax practitioners’ or ‘tax experts’ who promise that they can secure a refund from SARS.

The tax collector said that businesses and other organisations must also beware of third parties such as unknown payroll companies who offer to assist them with their PAYE submissions.

“SARS is being inundated with desperate calls from honest taxpayers who fall victim to these criminals and scammers who pocket the refunds for themselves and their accomplices as they often operate as syndicates.

“In some cases, these fraudulent submissions are the cause of delays that are experienced by law-abiding taxpayers when SARS has no other option but to verify the information that was submitted by scammers to SARS.”

SARS said that taxpayers who willing participate in such fraudulent activity in expectation of an illegal refund will be prosecuted along with the scammers.

“SARS urges honest citizens who suspect such criminal activity to provide information SARS. They can contact SARS anonymously using the number 0800 00 2870 or by anonymously completing an online form available on the SARS website www.sars.gov.za.”

Provisional taxpayers who use eFiling have until 29 January 2021 to submit their returns.

“Taxpayers who have received auto-assessment from SARS, which means their returns have automatically been filed and assessed, are reminded that they must accept the assessment or edit their return on eFiling.

Tax season for individual taxpayers who file at a branch closed on Thursday 22 October 2020.

The revenue service said it will ‘deal decisively’ with non-compliance such as the non-submission or late submission of returns. However, SARS said that not every taxpayer needs to submit a return.

Taxpayers who meet all of the following criteria need not submit a return:

  • Their total employment income for the year before tax is not more than R500,000;
  • They only receive employment income from one employer for the full tax year;
  • They have no other form of income such as car allowance, business income, and rental income, taxable interest or income from another job;
  • They don’t have any additional allowable tax related deductions to claim such as medical expenses, retirement annuity contributions and travel expenses.

Taxpayers who are yet to file can download the SARS MobiApp from the Playstore or Appstore and easily perform the following functions among others:

  • Register as a taxpayer and for SARS eFiling
  • Submit a return
  • Use the phone camera to upload supporting documents
  • Retrieve their username or reset their password
  • View their Notice of Assessment (ITA34)
  • Request a call-back to get the assistance of a SARS agent.

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SARS warns of refund scam in South Africa as tax deadline looms