SARS auto-assessments start rolling out – what taxpayers need to know

 ·1 Jul 2024

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is starting auto-assessment for taxpayers today, July 1st 2024.

SARS has announced that Monday, July 15th, 2024, is the start of the Filing Season for provisional and non-provisional taxpayers who must file a tax return.

Auto-assessments from the expanded pool of taxpayers will run from Monday, July 1, to Sunday, July 14, 2024.

SARS said that the Filing Season dates are as follows:

  • Auto-assessment notices: 1 – 14 July 2024

  • Individual taxpayers (non-provisional): 15 July 2024 – 21 October 2024

  • Provisional taxpayers: 15 July 2024 – 20 January 2025

  • Trusts: 16 September 2024 – 20 January 2025

Taxpayers whose contact details have changed, including email addresses and banking details, will have to update these details on eFiling or the SARS MobiApp to facilitate an easy Filing Season.

SARS said that updating this information goes a long way toward preventing fraud and identity theft.

SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said that the organisation remains committed to making Filing Season for standard taxpayers a process that requires little or no action from the taxpayer by using big data, machine learning and algorithms.

SARS also said that the pool of taxpayers who will be auto-assessed will increase from 3.8 million last year to roughly 4.8 million.

That said, high-net-worth individuals or people with more sophisticated tax affairs, such as company directors and independent traders, will likely be excluded from auto-assessments.

What to do

Taxpayers that agree with the auto-assessment will not have to do anything.

If there is a refund due, it will be paid within 72 hours.

If there is a tax due to SARS, the taxpayers must make the payment by the due date.

Taxpayers who do not agree with their auto-assessments should make all applicable changes and file their return the normal way via eFiling or the SARS MobiApp on or before 21 October 2024, the closing date for non-provisional taxpayers.

“The large number of digital platforms available to taxpayers reinforces the trend of a decreasing number of taxpayers needing to visit branches and wait in queues,” said Kieswetter.

Given that many taxpayers will rush to engage with SARS in the first two weeks of July and October, taxpayers may need to wait longer than usual for service.

Taxpayers who are auto-assessed but wish to claim the solar tax rebate must complete their tax return and file it normally.

Taxpayers who wish to contact SARS can do so via an Online Query System on the SARS website, through the Lwazi Chatbot or the Live Agent function on eFiling and the SARS MobiApp, by calling SARS, or by going into a SARS branch.

“The use of technology and data has enhanced SARS’ ability to detect instances of non-compliance. Taxpayers must not inflate their expenses and under-declare their income to obtain impermissible refunds,” said Kieswetter.

“Not including rental income is an example. Such actions will make the taxpayer potentially guilty of fraud.”


Kabelo Moutloatse, Tax Accounting Specialist at Latita Africa, said taxpayers must remember that SARS only uses the information it has.

Auto-assessments, thus, may not consider all potential dedications and credits available to the taxpayers.

Moutloatse warned that third-party data from an employer, a medical aid scheme or financial institution may not have been captured correctly

Events during the tax year may also not have been captured correctly by third-party data providers such as the employer, medical aid scheme, or financial institution.

“For example, resident employees working outside South Africa are eligible for a R1.25 million exemption on their foreign income. However, if this is not reflected on their employees’ tax certificates, SARS will tax them on their full income,” said Moutloatse.

“At the same time, if you earned other income that has not been taken into account in the auto-assessment and take no action, the resulting tax shortfall may result in not only additional tax, penalties and interest imposed by SARS further down the line but also criminal implications for the taxpayer.”

In addition, it is unwise for South Africans to knowingly accept an assessment that is not a true reflection of their tax affairs by arguing that SARS got there on its own.

“While the auto-assessment process is certainly a boon by SARS to enhance the level of compliance among individual taxpayers, remember, if it goes wrong, you’re still on the hook.”

Read: Out with the new, in with the old – the rise of a R10 billion economy in South Africa

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