South Africa cuts annual tax filing period by three weeks South Africa cuts annual tax filing period by three weeks

South Africa cuts annual tax filing period by three weeks
13 Jun 2018

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has cut the annual tax filing period by three weeks, but said it has taken steps to ensure its branches do not become overloaded as a result. 

SARS has indicated that the three extra weeks between the end of filing season and the start of the holidays in December will enable it to conduct audits and verifications.

The move will affect mainly non-provisional, individual taxpayers who earn a salary but do not have additional sources of income such as interest or rental earnings. People who have in the past filed their returns manually will now have from 1 July 2018 to 21 September to do so, while the final deadline for non-provisional taxpayers is 31 October.

Tax technical adviser at the South African Institute of Tax Professionals, Malebo Moloto, told Business Live that a shortened filing season would particularly affect small-to-medium-sized accountancy firms whose client base included non-provisional taxpayers and clients dealing with VAT, employer annual reconciliation and other non-tax-based deadlines.

The annual process of filing submissions starts in July and runs until the end of January. Acting SARS commissioner Mark Kingon said the agency had sent “personalised and direct” communications to taxpayers who might not need to submit a tax return.

"Too many people who are not required to file, due to them earning a single source of income from one employer of up to R350,000 (US$26,396) are going to a branch," he said.

But this situation clogged up SARS’s systems, with 1.6 million people who did not need to file a return in 2017 appearing to have done so. Another issue that drains resources is the large number of returns filed for prior years.

Kingon said SARS would now prioritise returns for the current year of assessment. The aim is to clear its backlog and encourage people to file their returns on time. Verification letters would also henceforth be more specific, so that taxpayers would know exactly what supporting documentation to provide, he added.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has cut the annual tax filing period by three weeks, but said it has taken steps to ensure its branches do not become overloaded as a result. 

SARS has indicated that the three extra weeks between the end of filing season and the start of the holidays in December will enable it to conduct audits and verifications.

The move will affect mainly non-provisional, individual taxpayers who earn a salary but do not have additional sources of income such as interest or rental earnings. People who have in the past filed their returns manually will now have from 1 July 2018 to 21 September to do so, while the final deadline for non-provisional taxpayers is 31 October.

Tax technical adviser at the South African Institute of Tax Professionals, Malebo Moloto, told Business Live that a shortened filing season would particularly affect small-to-medium-sized accountancy firms whose client base included non-provisional taxpayers and clients dealing with VAT, employer annual reconciliation and other non-tax-based deadlines.

The annual process of filing submissions starts in July and runs until the end of January. Acting SARS commissioner Mark Kingon said the agency had sent “personalised and direct” communications to taxpayers who might not need to submit a tax return.

"Too many people who are not required to file, due to them earning a single source of income from one employer of up to R350,000 (US$26,396) are going to a branch," he said.

But this situation clogged up SARS’s systems, with 1.6 million people who did not need to file a return in 2017 appearing to have done so. Another issue that drains resources is the large number of returns filed for prior years.

Kingon said SARS would now prioritise returns for the current year of assessment. The aim is to clear its backlog and encourage people to file their returns on time. Verification letters would also henceforth be more specific, so that taxpayers would know exactly what supporting documentation to provide, he added.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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