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Taxpayers battle with glitches after eFiling modernisation

Some problems fixed over the weekend – Sars.
Many of the taxpayers who decided to file their returns early this season have encountered challenges due to enhancements to the Sars system. Picture: Moneyweb

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) had to do a “number of fixes” to its electronic filing (eFiling) system over the weekend after receiving complaints from taxpayers.

Since the start of this year’s filing season for individual taxpayers two weeks ago, major enhancements to eFiling have caused problems for tax practitioners in the linking of accounts, accessing eFiling, as well as with the registration of new taxpayers on the system.

Read: Tax season opens with strong warnings against non-compliance

The South African Institute of Tax Professionals (Sait) says tax practitioners were also unable to access certain forms, tax types and returns, and experienced challenges with the uploading of supporting documentation.

A case of bad timing

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) says the fact that the technology update was launched at the start of filing season and in the week of June payroll submissions “may have compounded the system problems”.

Saica’s project director of tax advocacy, Sharon Smulders, says the challenges started with the registration process related to the new primary user function.

“These challenges included problems with the OTP [one-time pin] not working, not being able to save data inserted on the return or pre-populated data disappearing from the return, certain forms not being accessible on certain browsers and the inability to print returns or download assessments, and incorrect assessments being issued.”

Problems seem limited to the taxpayer interface

She says Sars’s main system integrity does not seem to be compromised, despite the numerous challenges with the taxpayer interface.

Sars said in a statement over the weekend that it was working closely with tax practitioners through the recognised controlling bodies such as Sait and Saica.

Sait head of stakeholder management Beatrie Gouws says that while some of the glitches have been resolved, tax practitioners were still reporting areas that needed some tweaking.

She says the introduction of the primary users and portfolio management features are aimed at simplifying the way tax practitioners interact with Sars.

“The introduction of these features affects current users who have multiple Sars eFiling login names linked to the IDs, requiring them to link these tax profiles. The user will select a default primary user in order to access eFiling going forward.”

Enhanced safety for eFilers

The OTP feature has been introduced to ensure additional safety for eFiling users.

“Although there are some teething problems, initial reports suggest that the enhancements will indeed ease the communication between Sars and their clients that make use of eFiling,” says Gouws.

Read: The Sars clean-up is well under way

Smulders says Saica has been engaging with Sars since the start of the filing season on July 1 and notes that many of their problems have been resolved.

Sars says it had received more than 450 000 personal income tax submissions through eFiling by Friday. It has also received 36 600 submissions through its MobiApp.

Sars apologises

The revenue service apologised for the challenges taxpayers have been experiencing with the payment of refunds and the inspection, verification or audit processes.

Sars has “endeavoured” to pay the current period’s refunds within seven business days of finalising the final assessment, if there is no other debt and all the taxpayer’s obligations have been met.

It also endeavoured to notify taxpayers within 15 business days of the submission of a return if they have been selected for an inspection, verification or audit.

Sars says it will conclude verifications within 21 business days of all required supporting documents being received and 90 business days in the case of audits.

Filing season for taxpayers making use of the electronic platforms will run from July 1 until December 4, while those making use of branch offices can do so from August 1 until October 31. Provisional taxpayers have until the end of January next year.

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Typical SARS planning. Introducing new system on the day the new tax season opens. Brilliant planning as usual. Basic stuff like saving uncompleted form not available. Kieswetter and his brainboxes. Very quick to threaten though.

Actually it is far from typical. SARS was one of the best institutions in the world until Zuptas had their way. It isn’t typical at all..

The new User Interface (UI) could’ve been designed better. Navigation through the site (as TaxPrac.) is still not ideal….pulling of statement of clients (or ‘RAV01′) still occasionally diverts back to your own tax.
Navigating between multiple clients’ profiles still problematic….my (own) workaround is to log in (and out) after dealing with each indiv client profile.

Irrespective, NO WEBSITE’s UI should operate like that. Poorly designed!! Very little is intuitive! (proof is…you need a 36-page “guide” to navigate through e-Filing. It should NOT be necessary IF well designed).

Come on cadres, you can do better than that?!

I just wasted 5 hours and lost all my data, was under the impression that it was being saved (I saved manually, periodically) and the session keeps on wanting to expire.
Seems it gets worse every year. Who got paid to design a flawed system?

In my opinion, one of the problems: you’d have to save ALL your data (the parts which are not pre-populated) in ONE go….otherwise you’ll lose it to start all over again.

The old system allowed you to save a partially completed (…which was practical, as it allows one to deal with typical phone or email interruptions in an office environment).

Have you tried to print a tax return? Like it or not you get about 26 pages all printed on. most of them are pages that have nothing to do with your tax return.

So far a much better experience compared to previous years. Did experience a few problems but managed to get the submission done. The software developers should allow more time before terminating a session and also ensure that the data is saved automatically. I had to fill the wizard a few times and lost quite a bit of data that needed re-entry.

Typical SARS threaten you daily but have a less than optimal system functioning. I tried repeatedly this last week end to access my files no joy – system just hung with a blank screen.

…during the first week of July the system had so many bugs, that E-Filing responded differently depending on what Browser you used!!

On MS Edge/Explorer there were weird navigation issues and page throwbacks…..Mozilla Firefox froze each time with E-Filing (but not when on other sites)….and Chrome behaved somewhat better with the odd quirk. Even installed Opera, out of desperation, to see if it’s not better.

The worst behind us (hopefully) as bugs get ironed out.

a provisional taxpayer earning less than R100 000 a year got 26 pages of irrelevant SARS pages when asking for a printout. Is Sars now run by Reginald in the Paarl office?

End of comments.





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