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Tis the season to be busy…. Falalalala lala lala…
The 2018 tax season started on 1 July 2018 and closes on 31 October 2018, making it a shorter season than usual, 18 business days to be exact! SARS claims that this will allow more time for verification before the December shutdown for the holidays.
Sars Acting Commissioner, Mark Kingon advised that taxpayers were made aware of a number of important changes for the filing season.
According to the Commissioner, some 1.6 million people filed returns in 2017 despite not having to do so. In an article titled, “8 things you need to know about tax season” that first appeared on Moneyweb, Kingon says, “Sars has sent personalised and direct communication to taxpayers who may not have to submit a tax return, based on information submitted during the 2017 tax season.” There are specific criteria that apply.
Does this mean that tax practitioners will have a lighter workload this tax season?
Sars has indicated they are running a pilot auto-assessment programme that will in effect automatically issue assessments to individuals who are part of the taxpayer population that fall below R350 000 and therefore do not need to submit returns.
If this initiative works, close to a million people would not have to go to SARS branches to do their filing. The process will be closely monitored in order to bring about future improvements.
Sars is giving priority to current year returns in a bid to eliminate the risk of taxpayers being scammed. According to Sars: “Where an assessment on one return may reflect a refund due, there may be instances where prior returns may reflect that the taxpayer needs to make payments. These amounts will be offset against each other and the taxpayer will be notified of the outcome.” This puts taxpayers at risk as they could be scammed as a result.
Kingon said that verification letters would become more specific, requesting only the required information in order to alleviate the burden on taxpaxers having to upload tons of information.
Sars believes it can reduce their own work volume by restricting repeat audits specifically where no risk was previously found.
Although unrelated to the filing season for individuals, the tax burden on dormant companies is being reduced in that they do not have to file if they meet specific criteria as published in the Gazette.
The good news for individuals and practitioners is the publication of the much anticipated Service Charter – which stipulates minimum service levels and turnaround times. According to Kingon, the charter is a “living document” which may be adjusted as required based on feedback received.
Finally, Sars encourages both individuals and practitioners to make extensive use of its eFiling service. In 2017, a record 120 000 returns were filed by practitioners at Sars offices. This trend is baffling Sars but has been attributed to a lack of computer proficiency and fear of the internet. With this in mind, Sars has committed to availing agents to assist individuals through their Help-You-eFile service.