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Auto-assessments for individual taxpayers kick off

More than 3 million taxpayers will have their tax returns filed by Sars on their behalf this year.
It’s convenient – but taxpayers who are auto-assessed are advised to check the information that has been filled in on their behalf to make sure it is correct. Image: Shutterstock

More than one million taxpayers have already been alerted by the South African Revenue Service (Sars) that they have been auto-assessed for the 2020 tax year.

Sars has used third party data to pre-populate these taxpayers’ returns. The draft assessments are based on the data provided to the revenue service and information available to it.

Taxpayers who receive an SMS from Sars notifying them of the outcome of their auto-assessment may choose to accept the outcome, says Sars head of communications Siphithi Sibeko.

If they accept the assessment, there is no need to file a return, since Sars has done it on their behalf.

They will be able to press ‘Accept’ on the MobiApp or the eFiling platforms.

However, taxpayers do not have to accept the draft assessment if they have additional information that has not been captured. They can make use of the ‘Edit’ function on the electronic platforms to amend the pre-populated return. Sars will then assess them based on the additional information provided, says Sibeko.

Verify your information

The pre-populated return will be available on the electronic platforms to verify if it contains all the relevant information of the taxpayer.

Sars has received 126 million data records from financial institutions, retirement funds, medical insurers and employers – and also draws information from the population register, companies register, national vehicle register and other asset registers.

Sibeko says Sars moves “from the premise that all employers were compliant”.

However, from Sars’s statement it is evident that only 57% (325 964) of the expected 567 508 employer reconciliations had been submitted by last week.

Only 262 091 of the reconciliations received were submitted on time, which was the end of May.

“As we use third party data to pre-populate individual tax returns and calculate auto-assessments, this may result in a negative experience for those individuals who were employed by non-compliant employers,” Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said in a statement.

Read: Covid-19: Salary cuts and tax impact

Taxpayers are advised to check their auto-assessment to ensure that all information, including that on their IRP5, has been captured and that it was captured correctly. If there has been a mistake on their tax certificate issued by their employer, they will have to ensure that it is corrected before Sars will accept an edited return.


Non-provisional taxpayers (generally taxpayers with one employer and no additional deductions) who have not been auto-assessed will have from September 1 until November 16 to file their returns electronically (eFiling or MobiApp), with the assistance of a Sars official if necessary.

They will only be able to get assistance at a branch if they have an appointment. Sars is discouraging any “unscheduled visits” to their offices in light of the need for social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“You may end up in undesirable long queues which we want to avoid as far as possible,” Kieswetter said.

Non-provisional taxpayers who are not registered for eFiling or are not using the MobiApp and elect to file at a Sars branch will have until October 22 to do so. However, they will also not receive assistance at a Sars office without an appointment.

Provisional taxpayers who have not been auto-assessed will have until January 29, 2021 to file their returns. These are taxpayers with more complicated tax returns and additional sources of income and expenses.

Sars has committed itself to be “better stewards” of taxpayer money. Kieswetter has appealed to government, as the largest employer in the country, to ensure compliance of civil servants.

Read: Tax ombud releases report on systemic issues at Sars

Sars has also engaged with registered controlling bodies such as at the South African Institute of Tax Professionals and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, business associations and auditing and accounting firms.

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So SARS has picked up the same scam as the insurance industry – make an offer that is far lower than it should be and see who bites.
And then the audacity to say: “SARS has committed itself to be “better stewards” of taxpayer money.”

What if Sars does not have my cell number?I have a new number. How will I know my assessment was automatically done? If not what should I do?

Login to e filing and check the ITR12 that SARS has compiled for you.

You can change your cell number on E-filing. Google it.

NB: If you have made a provisional tax payment the Auto assess figure that SARS send on the SMS is before deducting the provisional payment.

well I accepted my daughters auto assessment on Friday. the information on her return was correct. she will wait with baited breathe to see if she is one of the 70% who receive their rebate within 72 hours. Accounting for weekend that should,be Wednesday midnight at latest. Watch this space, but the whole procedure was simple.

…usually after 2 business days (but if you submit late-ish in the evening, count from the next day).

Friday submitted (and assuming no audit), your daughter should have her refund by tomorrow, Tue 4 Aug.

(….hope at least your daughter stick her dad for free dinner!)

I submitted mine on Thursday afternoon and I’m still waiting

The Auto Assessment in principle is fantastic. However, it just seems that SARS do not talk to tax practitioners before they just act. They should have made the auto assessments on the individuals with one IRP5 and no extra deductions. Similar to the people that do not have to file a return.

They send out sms’e to a lot of taxpayers that have car allowances, commission earners etc.

Caused a lot of confusen as people received a sms that they need to pay in. Or the refund amount is less thatn previous year. The only way to then make sure what the correct amount is, is to do the return. But SARS still say you can only file from 1 September.

They have managed to cause havoc amongst tax payaers.

Yip. In some cases the amount on the auto-assessment sms is totally unrelated to the amount on e-Filing.

The IRP5s were populated from Thursday, I have filed my return already.

I would also like to know why the discrepancy( which is quit big )between the sms and actual IT34 amount?

@Chev. Yes, I also spotted it on (certain, not everyone)’s communication: the result on SARS’ SMS is sometime worse than the (more accurate) E-Filing “draft/automated” calculation.

Rather go to the E-Filing profile.

I picked up that Medical Rebates gets added in when the E-Filing automated calculation is shown (at that point you’d have to accept or edit/decline).

One need some tax experience to determine if those “Rebates” are in fact correct…you have to factor in the R14,220 rebate (everyone gets it), plus the R7,794 (over-65 age rebate), and the medical premium & additional rebates, based on complex formulae on number of scheme members, etc.

Only 57% of the employer recons submitted? Government employees really need to get back to work now

Fully agree. SARS even try to “auto assess” people that have car allowances. (Obviously leading to adverse tax result, as there is no way in hell SARS would know the details on your own logbook).

SMS said I owed fairly suprising amount. I logged into e filing and completed the ITR12 and submitted. They now owe me as the allowance against Co car and provisional tax were not taken into account in the Auto assess.

@Kieswetter – Why should we pay tax? while the Taxi Industry pays little or no Tax?

Why should we pay tax? when there is no service delivery? No electricity and no water at times?

Why should we pay tax? when the ANC loots this country blindly?

Indeed, why should we pay tax when those who have been fingered in the Zondo commission have not been assessed on the amounts they are alleged to have received as bribes, including the king of Nkandla. Oh yes, and then there is the small thing of fringe benefits tax payable by him. Why have lifestyle audits not been done on all ANC members and ANC donation lists scrutinised to check what portion of bribes have been paid into ANC coffers?

Couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, I they justified it by saying they pay VAT on fuel, taxi purchases and auto parts purchases. If that is the case, we need to scrap income tax and only have a VAT for everyone. And then maybe higher VAT on luxury items which could include basic things like any car above R700K.

You need a functioning economy for VAT to work correctly. If companies are making losses from operations then they are probably claiming VAT instead of paying it.

Justice delayed is Justice Denied.

In the 24 years of anc governance approximately 20% of public procurement has been stolen that equates to R700,000,000,000.00 or simplified as R11,864.40 per South African citizen.

Pay back the money

In fact no one should pay tax until the taxi industry starts paying.

The problem, Mr Kieswetter, is that the increased looting of tax money seems to be commensurate with the improvements of your tax collection system.

So the more we pay, the more your colleagues steal.

What do you suggest, Eddie ?

…the state gets MORE THAN ENOUGH tax collections to function properly (without corruption, that is)

Want proof?

…well, Govt apparently can afford to refloat SAA for a few billion rand.

As a tax practitioner (I especially agree with “Rupert” and “Senzo…”)

Firstly, many “calculated results” received from Thursday via SMS, can differ from the actual “automated/draft” calculated result on your 2020-return (ie. reflecting on your e-Filing profile)

(SARS omits certain medical rebates, which they then add in on the website/profile calculation.)

The “link” on those SMS’s are nothing more than some written guidelines/ video tutorial on SARS’s main website. It does not tell you what your specific 2020 result is…you (or your tax person) still have to Login onto E-Filing to view their draft calculation.

(Frustrating thing is, on these “automated” draft-assessments, you cannot view the ITR12-return to check if taxpayer’s banking details are correct, what IRP5’s are downloaded, how the retirement benefit is broken up, etc). You can only view it after “accepted”, of if you choose to “edit”…but then you need to wait until 1 Sept.

They provide a basic/draft calculation, and you’d have to know offhand for example in the Rebates section at the bottom, what is your under or over-65” rebate, your medical premium rebate (based on number of members), and if you quality for “additional” medical rebates. SARS takes this from your medical tax cert 3rd part data….but they won’t know of “code 4034” amounts you never claimed to med aid (i.e. your med aid doesn’t know of cash doctor payments, so SARS won’t know either).

Beats me also why SARS auto-assesses people with Travel/Car Allowance codes on their respective IRP5’s?? (Maybe an ulterior motive here??). If you’re one of them, reject the SARS result by click on “Edit”, and enter your correct logbook claims from 1 Sept. Doubt if the automated/draft calculation picks up Donations to charities…then you’ll also have to choose “edit”.

Again….confusion from many people (understandingly) on the SARS automated “CALCULATED RESULT” at the bottom of draft-assessment. It does not say “refund” or “tax liability/shortfall”….merely “calculated result”. (a figure with a (-) in front indicates a Refund value; if no minus in front…that’s the value you will owe SARS tax back!…so rather choose “edit” and submit after 1 Sept if in doubt.

If it turns out that you (correctly) have to pay SARS money back (whatever your circumstances)…also rather choose “edit”, and resubmit on/before 16 November deadline…otherwise you’ll end up paying SARS sooner than later. (It’s a time-value of money/ cashflow matter)

As far as medical aid goes we are on hospital plan and every single medical bill gets sent to medical aid, they record and provide a total on your tax certificate.
even with normal filing which used to start July 1st only those of us who knew we would get a refund filed at earliest possible moment.If you know it’s the opposite you are going to wait til last moment even with auto filing, then you reject or just plain ignore,
On the whole anyone with tax not 100 percent straightforward use a tax practitioner it’s generally worth the fee.

@RMH. Yes, it’s a good thing to get into the habit to try and claim everything to your med aid, even if you’re on hospital-only plan, and you know your medical scheme is not going to cover you. Just send the claim to your Med aid with the instruction: “please record this claim for my tax certificate purposes”.

Agree also, if you are correctly bound for a refund…claim it NOW (if you are ‘auto-assessed” and you’re happy with result (a minus value = refund), otherwise if not chosen for “automated” assessment, then submit from 1 Sept.

If you typically end up (correctly) owing SARS money, wait for 16 Nov to submit 2020-return (or 29 Jan 2021 if you’re a provisional taxpayer, e.g. those with rental income, of interest income exceeding tax-free thresholds). You are not legally bound to submit sooner.

SARS also needs to update and upgrade their system. You can’t be helped to fill and complete your return without supporting documents and documents being copied and attached at the branch but with SARS you can still be part of the people that are auto chosen by the system for assessment to again bring the very same documents. Assessment also takes too long to be completed and for your money to be paid back!

The concept of tax morality evaporated when SARS became the extortion arm of the ANC ethic cleansing regime. There are few things in life that are certain but that your hard earned tax money will be misappropriated/ stolen is one.

Can we have Auto-Assessments of individual politicians? No longer paying a cent to this criminal organization.

strange?….. I thought they don’t have to pay tax??

An assessment in the non-tax form. 🙂 SMH

For those that have not been auto assessed, it is possible to now submit a normal return via e-filing. Seems the date is 1-August and not 1-September as previously mentioned.

Interesting question “Trying to Submit” 😉 😉

Thought about it myself. If NOT chosen for “automated”/draft assessment, when one is supposed to WAIT until 1 Sept to submit (…like those who rejected SARS’ initial draft/auto calculation, by claiming car/travel/logbook claims, etc)

Having said that, I’ve heard from a peer that “there seems to be no programmatic stops that block you” if you want to submit before 1 Sep. Who knows, all such returns could be flagged for supporting docs audit(?) But then…your audit could be completed before 1 Sept 😉

Maybe you can be our guinea pig? 😉 But let’s rather wait from others’ experience first, as this is still too soon to confirm a trend.

I have an expectation that it will not be plain sailing

Interesting Michael : I await my Auto Audit rather than Auto Assesment !! :
EVERY year I am audited to the point of SARS not even believing Certificates from my medical aid and requesting copies of bank statements to verify my Contributions !!!!!
No Audit has ever found one cent wrong in my Submissions but every year the same farce continues : A sickening waste of time !

A message for SARS: Consider me part of the taxi industry.

The option is there to review the assessment and do amendments….only a fool will just accept! Didn’t experience any problems with this years e-filing, smooth as always ( maybe because my refund was bigger than expected 🙂 ) thank you SARS……just a shame all your hard work is nullified by a incompetent and corrupt government.

Chev, before you click….just make sure the figure at the bottom on the E-Filing “draft/automated” calculation from SARS, has a MINUS(-) value…which is a refund.

If a positive value…it’s a shortfall owing SARS. (instead of accepting or editing….just leave the page, or click on any “link” on the left of E-Filing screen to get out of “2020 automated” screen. You can re-visit it later again, with same choice put forward.

All of this automatic accessing of personal information via third parties by a powerful organization such as SARS is concerning. Whilst I understand the pursuit of efficiency by Edward Kieswetter, there are certainly increased risks with embedding such capabilities. Let us not forget that not too long ago, SARS was headed by a certain Tom Moyane.

Human nature being what it is, I suspect SARS will find that everybody whose tax bill is less than they thought it would be, will accept auto-assessment. And the rest..

A good few people will, with the certainty of lockdown be writing off debtors that they thought were receivable when they did their Feb second provisional.

Q: If most data vendors have not yet uploaded SARS with the tax and dividend and medical certificates, then I suppose it is not worth trying to file returns for provisional taxpayers? I am not practitioner but got suckered into doing returns for friends and family :/

Did SARS consider Tax Practitioners when doing this auto assessment – our clients expect us to do this auto assessment free… is it fair?


…as a Tax Prac I’ve taken the middle ground (in fees) regarding those specific automated/draft calculations from SARS.

For those of mine selected for “automated” assessment, I’ve drastically reduced my basic fee (by cutting out the frills from my service, by not doing a time-consuming Tax Calc sheet for client, and merely do some overview checks from their supporting docs vs SARS “draft” calc, and tell client that can “accept” or “edit”)

This allows me to say work through almost double the number of submissions, at almost half the cost for such clients. Win-win. Use this automated process to your advantage to speed up service.

If we have to choose to “edit” which there are quite a few, normal fees will apply, as you’d get a better/correct tax result for your client, by doing your normal Tax Calc report, etc.

(Mere suggestion)

SARS is confusing people even more this year, and despite me sending very concise & clear messaging broadcasts to clients what will happen in 2020, then later many ask “I got my SMS…what do I do now?” *sigh*

End of comments.





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