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Tax season opens with strong warnings against non-compliance

Sars will step up its administration and penalties to ensure better compliance, commissioner says.

The annual tax filing season for individuals has been officially launched in Pretoria by the South African Revenue Service (Sars). Last year nearly six million individuals filed their returns.

Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter said they remain concerned about outstanding and late tax returns. Of the 5.8 million returns filed last year, 1.5 million were outstanding returns.

Kieswetter said they will step up their administration and penalties to ensure better compliance. He also expressed concerns about taxpayers who do not declare rental income from properties. Sars intends on working more closely with the deeds office to shine light on the issue. It will also allow the tax authority to better match the declarations of capital gains tax when properties are sold.

Another area of focus during the current filing season will be declarations of distributions from trusts and estates to beneficiaries.

Last year Sars prevented the payout of R8.2 billion in fraudulent refunds. Kieswetter said this was a serious criminal offence and holds significant financial consequences for taxpayers who participate in the submission of fraudulent claims.

The filing season for taxpayers making use of electronic filing such as eFiling and the new Sars MobiApp runs from July 1 to December 4. People going into a branch to file their returns can do it from August 1 to October 31 and provisional taxpayers have until January 31 to file their returns.

Kieswetter said that during the 2018 tax year, 5.8 million tax returns from individuals were received, of which 1.5 million were from the prior year. Around 2.8 million taxpayers visited branches to submit returns resulting in long queues and services challenges.

There is a strong drive this year to convert individual taxpayers to use electronic channels to file their returns and upload required documentation.

Last year 55% of all returns were filed electronically.

Kieswetter again referred to the 1.5 million taxpayers who are not obliged to file tax returns. These are taxpayers with simple affairs who have only one employer, no additional sources of income and no additional expenses.

The threshold for mandatory submissions has been increased from R350 000 to R500 000. Sars will send taxpayers who are not required to file a simulated calculation by way of an SMS. This assessment will be based on the information given to it by employers (IRP5 certificates) and third- party data sources such as banks.

Last year Sars received 80 million employee tax certificates from 300 000 employers and 96 million investment and banking statements from 1 000 banks and investment managers, as well as 2.4 million retirement annuity certificates and 4.4 million medical aid tax certificates.

Sars is also committed to address some of the biggest frustrations that taxpayers are still encountering. This includes countless requests for “additional supporting documentation” and the need for personal taxpayer verifications at branch offices.

Keith Engel, CEO of the South African Institute of Tax Professionals (Sait), says the promise of better and clearer communication with taxpayers will take a lot of tension out of the process.

He says he still expects teething problems, both on the side of taxpayers and Sars, but there are genuine signs of improvements. The letter requesting additional supporting documents will now specify whether it is a retirement annuity or medical aid tax certificate for example. In the past it has been vague resulting in taxpayers uploading all their supporting documents.

Engel said the problem of uploading the required documents had also created tension in the past. Sars has now acquired software that will enable it to convert documents in the format required.

Kieswetter said taxpayers will also be able to upload documents of five megabytes at once and will be able to upload 100 megabytes of documentation in total.

Faith Ngwenya, technical and standards executive at the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (Saipa), welcomed the level of changes and improvements to assist with a faster filing and assessment process. She said they have battled in the past to get quick responses and resolutions to taxpayer issues.

One issue that remains a frustration is taxpayer verifications, such as banking details, that has to be done personally at a Sars branch.

Kieswetter acknowledged the frustration and said it was one of his as well. He says Sars also views this as an unnecessary step, given the available technology.

It is on Sars’s to-do-list, he promised.

Ngwenya said with digitisation and biometric verification and even facial recognition it can be done through the mobile app rather than having to go to a branch.

“It is a hassle for taxpayers who are living in rural areas where there is no branch nearby – and they have to travel more than 50km to get to a branch.”

She hoped that there will already be a solution to this frustration during the current filing season.

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Oh dear! If only, oh if only those spending the money were as “dedicated ” as those collecting the money.

The comments say it all. One law for the taxpayers, another for the government. The business model is a disaster.

The more the government mismanages the economy, the more they try to extract from it.

As a taxpayer you need to emigrate and take your taxes elsewhere so the government can put up the taxes on those left behind.

Go figure. Just like Eskom, the tax collection of this country is in a death spiral.

Kieswetter sounds like he’s working on commission.

5.8 million tax filings from a population base of 56million (google result 2017)… compared with the uk where there are about 30.7 million tax payers of a population of 66million. Seems that there are too few people left at the table that can settle the bill…

To be fair, 5.8m tax filers does not define the number of actual taxpayers – very many taxpayers do not file

But yes, it does feel like the mules are dragging the cart up a mine shaft and the brakes or still on…

That’s right, kick off the season with threats against those tax payers that do not comply to fill in those tax returns. Now be just as quick and harsh on those who do not spend the revenue properly, make money disappear on “fruitless and wasteful” expenses and those that do not pass audits conducted by the Auditor General and those that fail to run SOE’s in a responsible manner.

They are terrified the inflow into the trough becomes restrained resulting in the “liberation” entitlements beginning to rapidly dwindle. “We struggled to be able to loot freely”. No?

Is it time for a Tax Revolt? Are we not accessories to the criminals looting the SOE’s.What has happened to the prosecution of the GUPTAS and ZUMA etc. HAs anyone been fined or sent to jail? Saa has been a running loss for over a decade and had R6billion bailouts every year. Throwing money at the problem is not the solution and i dont like to be financing criminals.Eskom clearly is over staffed and needs cuts. SAA the same.SABC is dead and should be buried.The list goes on and on and on and i dont see where the plan is to implement efficiencies and employ the skilled people who know their jobs and are not Cadres at the Trough. Did the SONA 2019 provide any solutions to the issues?

Do you think the politically connected who drive around with piles of cash in their boot are concerned about SARS and compliance? They probably have a good laugh when they read this article.

They can read?

…”He also expressed concerns about taxpayers who do not declare rental income from properties. Sars intends on working more closely with the deeds office to shine light on the issue.”

And with AirBnB.com no doubt, as earnings will be very visible and traceable.

This together with impending Short-term letting bill will be fun to watch, with all the AirBnB ‘Entrepreneurs” scurrying for cover.

More bargains on the property market coming soon…

If this does not get your blood boiling nothing will. Government is practically useless, nothing works and there is chaos wherever you go. Presidents of the country give the Constitution and laws the middle finger while political thugs steal without (to date) any arrests while privileged taxi thugs kill with immunity yet long-suffering ordinary citizens are threatened if they don’t file returns. GFY!

Kieswetter in his communistic attire threatening taxpayers. GFY 5.8M times over. Wonder why Kingon did not get the job?

It is very sad indeed that the tax collector has to resort to threats such as this to recover taxes when those taxpayers actually get nothing for their tax payments. If only Treasury could impose similar draconian measures to manage how these tax receipts are employed and accounted for. If serves no purpose that the Auditor General reports year after year the wholesale theft of taxpayer and ratepayer monies when these people receive zero benefits. SARS needs to be exceedingly careful in how they couch their quest for taxpayer funds as they could see themselves being treated like e-tolls if they become overbearing

When the regime jails those who stole billions from us and never declared their ill-gotten gains, then I will have respect for SARS. Until then I am just a milking cow for the regime and they use my money to discriminate against me!

SARS = mafia!

Amazing. The same ANC government tried to sneak in a convicted fraudster into a parliamentary committee.
Now they are threatening the few financing their corrupt ways.
Animal farm!

SARS and the ANC are two separate entitities… supposedly.

Kieswetter, is it really good practice to use threats before encouragement (assuming the article is not false news). Why threaten? Why not inform us how you will help us by making returns easier to submit, fewer errors in the assessments (ie tax directives making it onto the taxpayer file)and generally use an initial carrot rather than a stick … it may well actually work for those long overburdened folk who actually pay tax! The general comments that are being posted are illuminating to say the least. Always remember, we pay your salary!

The ANC is a criminal organisation. Once you accept that it, all makes sense.

The only taxpayers being chased are those that is easy prey. We’re being taxed to death by a corrupt system [savings???]. It’s being considered as too much work by SARS to go for the fat calf hiding in the corner – those that don’t declare income from rental, stokvel, etc., etc. These ‘taxpayers’ are living the high life at the expense of the easy prey.

You can threaten all you like. If there is no more to squeeze that’s it!

Just another cadre doing the cadre thing.

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