02 July 2012

2012 SOUTH AFRICAN TAX FILING SEASON IS OPEN

Income tax filing season opened in South Africa on 01 July 2012. This tax year covers 01 March 2011 to 29 February 2012. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is encouraging electronic filing and is launching new methods. You can file via a computer, a tablet or a smartphone. You can also use a facility known as Help-You-eFile, which enables you to share with a SARS agent the browser window that displays your electronic return. The agent will talk you through completing your return. SARS plans to launch a mobisite from which you will be able to file your return using a mobile phone with Internet access. The new eFiling app will also be available soon. SARS has put together some videos that will be available on YouTube. Last year, more than 99% of the almost five million returns that were submitted were filed electronically.

SARS is no longer sending out paper returns. If you want to file a paper return, you must ask SARS to post a pre-populated return to you by calling the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 72 77, or you can visit a SARS branch and complete an Income Tax Return Request (ITRR) form.

Take note of the tax return deadlines, as failure to submit your return by the due date will result in high administrative penalties. Penalties start at R250 and are applied for each month you fail to meet the required deadline. SARS can appoint an agent, such as your employer, to collect the outstanding penalties and interest amounts from you and pay them over to SARS.

  • Friday, 28 September 2012: The deadline for taxpayers who submit paper tax returns by post or who deposit them into a drop-box at a SARS branch
  • Friday, 23 November 2012: The deadline for taxpayers who submit their returns electronically at a SARS branch or via eFiling.
  • Thursday, 31 January 2013: The deadline for provisional taxpayers who submit their income tax returns via eFiling.

SARS has issued the following guidelines on who should submit an income tax return:

If you are under 65 years of age and received an income of more than R59 750 from one or more sources, or if you received more than R120 000 from a single source of employment, during the year of assessment from 01 March 2011 to 29 February 2012.

If you are between 65 and 74 years of age and received an income of more than R93 150 from one or more sources, or if you received more than R120 000 from a single source, during the year of assessment from 01 March 2011 to 29 February 2012.

If you are 75 years and older and received more than R104 261 from one or more sources, or if you received more than R120 000 from a single source, during the year of assessment from 01 March 2011 to 29 February 2012.

If you earn less than R120 000 a year, you need to make sure you are not required to submit a return, because this exemption is qualified. Your salary must be from a single source and employee’s tax must have been deducted or withheld from the full amount.

If you earned a salary of less than R120 000 a year but, for example, incurred capital gains in excess of R20 000, you must still submit a return.

If you carried on any trade as a natural person and not in your capacity as an employee, you are expected to submit a return, even though your taxable income may be less than R120 000 for the year.

SARS has a tool to help you to determine if you need to submit a return. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, the tool will tell you that you are required to submit a return:

Did you conduct any trade in South Africa?
Did you receive an allowance, such as a travel, subsistence or office-bearer’s allowance?
Do you hold any funds or assets outside South Africa that have a value of more than R50 000?
Did you have a local capital gain/loss exceeding R20 000?
Did you receive any income or capital gain in a foreign currency?
Do you hold any rights in a controlled foreign company?
Did you receive an income tax return, or were you requested to submit an income tax return?

Get started as soon as possible. If you are due a refund, the sooner you file, the sooner you'll get your money. It is illegal to lie on your return by inflating your expenses or not declaring your correct income. Gather all your supporting documentation so that you have it on hand to file. Supporting documents may include:

Your IRP5 tax certificate from your employer.
An income tax certificate from your medical aid scheme.
A list and the receipts of medical expenses not covered by your medical aid scheme.
A tax certificate for your contributions towards a retirement annuity fund.
A detailed logbook specifying your business trips and travel costs for the period.

The secrets to a less stressed tax filing season:

1) Have a well-maintained filing system
Getting ready for taxes is so much easier when all of the information you need is properly filed and easily accessed. Put together a well-organised filing system this year if you don’t already have one in place.

2) Have a well-maintained bookkeeping system
Keep track of all of your invoices, deposits, cheques, statements, bank reconciliations, credit card receipts and inventory on a weekly basis. Use a computerised bookkeeping system instead of the shoebox method.

3) Make time in your weekly and monthly schedule for record-keeping and filing
Even 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference. Reconcile your bank statements monthly throughout the year.