Five things you should know about tax season

“Individuals can submit their returns from Friday, July 1.

Ingé Lamprecht   |  28 June 2016 00:01 

JOHANNESBURG – The 2016 Tax Season will officially kick off on Friday, July 1 and individual taxpayers will be able to submit their returns for the tax year ending February 29 2016.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Not all taxpayers have to file a return

If your total annual salary before tax is less than R350 000, you only receive an income from one employer, have no other sources of income such as rent, taxable interest or a car allowance and don’t want to claim deductions for medical expenses, contributions to a retirement annuity or travel expenses you probably don’t need to submit a tax return. The threshold is unchanged from 2015.

  1. You can retrieve your eFiling password via the Sars website

If you have forgotten your eFiling login details, go to www.sarsefiling.co.za and click on the Login sign. Then click on the question mark and request your login details. Sars will send the information to your e-mail address or cellphone number.

You will need to be a registered taxpayer to register for eFiling (if you haven’t done so already).

  1. Different categories of taxpayers have different deadlines

Non-provisional taxpayers (most taxpayers fall into this category) who submit their returns via eFiling can do so until November 25. This deadline is also applicable for electronic submissions at a Sars branch.

During the 2015 tax season, 99.96% of returns were filed electronically.

Manual or postal submissions must be tendered by September 23. Provisional taxpayers who submit returns via eFiling have until January 31 to do so.

  1. Your tax practitioner must be registered

If you use the services of a tax practitioner, the practitioner should be registered with one of the recognised controlling bodies as well as Sars. This has been a regulatory requirement for the past three years.

You can verify your tax practitioner’s registration number on the eFiling page by clicking here. It is important to note that even if you use the services of a tax practitioner, it is still your responsibility to make a true declaration. You are also accountable for any outstanding returns, payments and penalties.

Ettiene Retief, chairperson of the National Tax and Sars Stakeholders Committees at the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (Saipa), says a common mistake, for example, is not to recognise the small interest income that might be earned on a medical aid savings account.

“The amount of such interest might be too small to be material, but the point is that Sars gets the information reflected on these certificates and its system will compare the income you have disclosed and what it expects. Even a small discrepancy could cause the system to flag a mismatch,” he says.

  1. Supporting documents must be kept for five years

Piet Nel, head of the School of Applied Tax at the South African Institute of Tax Professionals (Sait), says supporting documents must be kept for a period of five years from date of submission. However, where an audit is conducted or a dispute exists, it may be necessary to keep documents for a longer period of time.

Supporting documents could include your IRP5 certificate from your employer. This is basically a summary of all the income you earned, taxes you paid and other contributions and deductions made on your behalf. Check this information against the information on the electronic return.

Also keep your IT3(b) certificates for investment returns, financial statements, medical aid contribution certificates and receipts, retirement annuity certificates, logbook and documents related to travel expenses. A more detailed list can be found on the Sars website here.

Sars may request you to submit these supporting documents in order to verify the information on your tax return.”

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