SARS recently released two media statements, in which it notes several improvements made to eFiling for the 2019 tax season, including the issue of customised notices indicating specific documents required in the event of an audit or verification and a simulated outcome issued before a taxpayer has filed.
What is the tax season?
Tax season is the period in which individual taxpayers file their income tax returns to ensure that their affairs are in order. Although the majority of taxpayers who earn a salary have already paid tax through monthly pay-as-you-earn tax (PAYE), which was deducted from their salary by their employer and paid over to SARS, employees may still have an obligation to file a tax return if they earn above the filing threshold (see in more detail below). Once SARS reconciles what was paid over by the employer with what a taxpayer declares on their tax return, an assessment is issued which may result in the taxpayer needing to pay an additional tax to SARS, or is due a refund, or neither.
Taxpayers who are natural persons and meet all of the following criteria need not submit a tax return for the 2019 filing season:
- Your total employment income for the year before tax is not more than R500 000;
- Your remuneration is paid from one employer or one source (if you changed jobs during the tax year, or have more than one employer or income source, you must file);
- You have no car or travel allowance, a company car fringe benefit, which is considered as additional income;
- You do not have any other form of income such as interest, rental income or extra money from a side business; and
- Employees tax (i.e. PAYE) has been deducted or withheld
Although you are not required to submit a tax return if you meet the above criteria, it is always good practice to ensure that you have a complete filing history with SARS. If your tax records do ever become important in future (such as in the case of remission of penalties, tax clearance certificates, etc.), you do not want to be in a position to have to prove that you were not liable to file a return in a particular year. The administrative burden in the current year certainly outweighs the potential issues down the line.
Important filing dates
eFiling opens on 1 July 2019 and closes on 4 December 2019.
Manual filing at branches opens on 1 August 2019 and closes 31 October 2019.
Provisional taxpayers have until 31 January 2020 to file via eFiling.
There is already a steady increase in the number of taxpayers in queues at SARS branches – it is therefore advised that you engage with your tax practitioner as soon as possible, to plan for tax season 2019.