With less than a month to go to the close of the 2018 tax season, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has received close to three million tax return submissions.
“To date, SARS is close to reaching the 3-million mark in tax return submissions for the current year of assessment. This is approximately a 4% increase compared to the same time last year,” said the revenue service on Monday.
Of the submitted returns, 51% have been submitted through eFiling.
The 2018 tax season will come to a close on 31 October for non-provisional taxpayers and for those provisional taxpayers who opt to file at a branch.
The revenue service also announced that in the last month of tax season, its contact centre will be available on Saturdays from 06 – 27 October from 8 am to 1 pm, to support taxpayers with eFiling.
All SARS branches will also be open on Saturdays at the same time where taxpayers can make use of self-help kiosks to electronically file their personal income tax returns.
“It is important to note that the extended hours on Saturdays will only be used to assist with personal income tax returns,” said the revenue service.
In June, acting SARS Commissioner Mark Kingon announced a shorter tax season timeframe that will run three weeks shorter than in the past.
This year’s tax season which kicked off in July runs 18 business days shorter than usual with provisional taxpayers ordinarily having until 31 January 2019 to file their returns on eFiling only.
The revenue service’s focus this year has been on the 24-hour eFiling channel which taxpayers can use at their leisure without having to go to a branch.
eFilers are supported by the Help-You-eFile mechanism during business hours, which links them to a SARS contact centre agent who can assist the taxpayer to complete their tax return.
In addition, SARS issued a stern warning to those who file their tax returns late.
“Administrative penalties will be applied to late filing of tax returns and range from R200 to R5000. In accordance with the Tax Administration Act No. 28 of 2011 (TAA), and specifically Section 234 (d), it is a criminal offence not to submit a tax return for any of the tax types a taxpayer is registered for.”
It added that it has clamped down on outstanding tax returns to improve compliance, with 18 taxpayers prosecuted this year for not filing a return.
“These taxpayers, who were publicly named, had ignored SARS’ reminders that they were due to file a return, and now possess a criminal record. Fines ranging from R2000 to R20 000, as well as admission of guilt fines were handed down by the courts, while some were imprisoned.”
The revenue service also called on the public to be alert of scams where refunds are promised or where the taxpayer is informed of debt they owe SARS.
“These scams come in various forms including letters, email, website links and even individuals either posing as SARS officials, debt collectors or tax preparers. There are instances where tax preparers promise taxpayers a refund in return for a percentage of the refund as a fee.
“Fraud is often committed in the name of the taxpayer by claiming fraudulent expenses. When SARS does identify this fraud the taxpayer will be liable for the full debt as well as penalties,” it stressed.
The SARS Contact Centre can be reached on 0800 00 7277 while suspicious tax activity and corruption can be reported on the hotline at 0800 00 2870. – SAnews.gov.za