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SARS eFiling changes

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In a major departure from previous years, and to improve service to taxpayers and encourage conversion to online filing, SARS has announced that the 2019 tax season will henceforth be staggered.

This allows taxpayers who use SARS eFiling and the SARS MobiApp for smart phones and tablets, to file their income tax returns from 1 July until 4 December 2019. Taxpayers who wish to use online filing for the first time, may also register as from 1 July.

Taxpayers who want to file their income tax returns at a SARS branch may do so from 1 August until 31 October 2019, a much shorter period than that allowed for users of SARS eFiling and the SARS MobiApp.

SARS has introduced several innovations to its digital channels for Tax Season 2019, including the use of SARS MobiApp for smart phones and tablets for registering for eFiling, retrieval of username and reset of password, submitting a return and using a camera to upload documents, as well as making a tax calculation.

 Income threshold

The income amount above which individuals must pay tax had also been amended. SARS Commissioner also indicated that the period 1 March 2018 – 28 February 2019, the amount was R78 150 for income earners younger than 65 years of age.

However, this does not mean that all taxpayers who pay tax are required to submit an income tax return.

Submission criteria

Taxpayers do not need to submit an income tax return if they meet all of the following criteria:

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 (e.g. 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 (e.g. medical expenses, retirement annuity contributions and travel expenses).

Taxpayers who are not required to file will receive a simulated calculation from SARS via SMS based on information given to SARS by employers and other sources. The outcome will show the taxpayer what they could expect as though they had filed a return themselves.  Taxpayers can accept the outcome of the calculation or resubmit the return with changes they would like to make.

Enforcement actions

While SARS has taken steps to make it easy to comply, it wishes to express its deep concern about the following trends, and assures all those who are non-compliant of its commitment to enforce the law to correct the following behavior:

1. Outstanding returns and late returns remain a concern and SARS will step up its enforcement of penalties in this regard. Many taxpayers still do not declare rental income from properties and we will improve our data matching in this regard by collaborating with the Deeds Office. This matching will also allow us to better enforce non-compliance in the declaration of Capital Gains Tax

2. We will also renew our focus in monitoring income and expenses from Commission earners

3. We are concerned about the accuracy of declarations of Distributions to and from Trusts to the beneficial recipients

4. We have also noticed Tax Preparers unethically promising taxpayers that they will secure a refund. They then look for opportunities to understate income or overstate expenses. This is a serious offence and could result in criminal charges as well as financial consequences for the taxpayer who remains accountable to SARS for their submissions

5. Fictitious refunds are claimed for fabricated expenses and losses, as well as fictitious employers generating IRP5’s for the sole purpose of claiming refunds.

6. Fraudster filing multiple returns to create refund opportunities, as well as syndicates reusing IRP5s across multiple individuals

7. We are working hard to improve the integrity of our profiling capability using sophisticated risk modeling and expanding our data set. Last year SARS prevented over R8.2bn fraudulent returns from being paid

8. We are currently working both the SAPS as well as the NPA to criminally prosecute fraudsters and have already successfully convicted a number of taxpayers for non-compliance. We have also successfully convicted some of our own staff for colluding with taxpayers

9. We are instituting a renewed focus on HNW Individuals who often arrange their affairs in complex ways, often presenting a higher compliance risks to SARS.

The original SARS notice can be found here.