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Tax tips for filing season

Ghost practitioners remain a concern.

JOHANNESBURG – An individual taxpayer whose total annual salary from one employer did not exceed R350 000 during the 2015 tax year and who did not have any allowances, deductions or additional income (for example interest, dividends or rental) do not have to file a tax return.

The 2015 tax season for individuals starts on July 1 and the South African Revenue Service (Sars) has increased the threshold for taxpayers who do not need to submit a tax return from R250 000 in the previous tax year.

Pieter Faber, project director for tax at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica), says natural person non-provisional taxpayers (most taxpayers fall into this category) who submit their tax returns manually or via the post, have to do so by September 30 2015. The deadline for non-provisional taxpayers who use the Sars eFiling system or who file electronically at a Sars branch is November 27.

Natural persons liable for provisional tax and are eFilers have until January 29 next year to submit their returns.

Faber advises taxpayers to gather all supporting documentation related to their income and expenses in advance. This could include IRP5 forms from their employers, tax certificates for medical aid contributions and retirement annuities as well as other investments.

Taxpayers who use the services of a tax practitioner should ensure that the individual is registered with one of the recognised controlling bodies as well as Sars. This has been a regulatory requirement for the past two years.

The process to start regulating tax practitioners commenced more than a decade ago but the official regulation only took effect on July 1, 2013 as a result of the introduction of the Tax Administration Act.

Faber says previously almost anyone could have offered advice and filed returns on behalf of taxpayers.

The regulatory changes was an effort to ensure that practitioners have certain minimum qualifications and experience, update their knowledge and that clients have recourse if improper advice was given. Sars envisaged that this would improve compliance.

As a result of the regulation the number of tax practitioners reduced from roughly 32 000 in 2004 to current levels of less than 18 000.

Faber says although compliance has improved, there is an ongoing concern that some of the 14 000 practitioners who have disappeared from the system are still operating as “ghost practitioners” outside the ambit of the law.

“The problem with these ‘ghost practitioners’ are that not only are they acting unlawfully in competing with compliant practitioners, but in some instances mislead taxpayers by overstating expenses claimed to get a percentage fee of the refund. This is a fraud on the taxpayer and not on Sars, as the taxpayer will remain liable for any tax that has to be repaid once the correct amount is assessed,” Faber says.

In addition, taxpayers will also face the strenuous task of proving that they were not involved where fraudulent expenses were claimed on their behalf in the return to Sars, he says.

Taxpayers can check the status of their tax practitioner on the Sars website by verifying the Tax Practitioner Number here and should also request the practitioner to confirm with which controlling body he or she is registered.

Taxpayers should preferably use the eFiling system as it is easier to track the submissions the tax practitioner has submitted on their behalf than when it is filed manually, Faber says.

* This content was sponsored by Saica.


Luister na Andries van Zyl se onderhoud met Pieter Faber, projekdirekteur vir belasting by Saica, hier:

Listen to Hanna Barry’s interview with Muneer Hassan – Senior Executive: Tax Legislation and Practitioners at Saica, here:



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Many people have interest income which is below the exemption limit, currently (and in future) R34500, and that is quite likely to be their only “unearned” income source. Dividends are subject to withholding tax which is not reclaimable. So why don’t SARS extend the exemption to file a return to people who fall into this category.
In other words IF the income from one employer is < 350000 AND interest is < 34500 AND there is no rental or any other source of income, other than dividends, then no need for a return. Or is that too complicated?

The whole mechanism of how SARS treats taxpayer is quite dumb and really illustrates that they haven’t a clue as what is going on out there. I receive a pension and I get a small payout on a LA both of which have tax deducted prior to me being paid. I receive interest less than the threshold for a 65 + taxpayer yet I am still treated as a provisional tax payer and for what purpose I have no clue, other than SARS just created additional work for the taxpayer unnecessarily

Without going into detail about our respective earnings, I seem to be in roughly the same position as you. Also a pension bought with the proceeds of my employer’s pension fund, plus a smaller living annuity. I don’t have tax on the latter deducted as it’s below the threshold, but I find that my claimable medical expenses more than cover the tax that should be paid if the amounts were aggregated. Also interest well below the 65+ allowance. Only difference is that after the 2011 tax year, SARS notified me after my IT34 assessment that I no longer need to make a provisional return. I did not request this, they just told me and I’m not going to argue! Possibly you could get the same treatment? I also hate tax returns, especially when SARS runs you through hoops to get a bank account verified.

End of comments.





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