Sars to make life easy for you

The South African Revenue Service this week announced the opening of tax season.

The South African Revenue Service this week announced the opening of tax season.

Published Jun 15, 2024


Durban — Solar panel rebates have ended and NHI taxes are still a long way off, the South African Revenue Service said last week.

Speaking to the Independent on Saturday, Sars said at least 55% of all personal income taxpayers would receive auto-assessments this year.

Spokesman Siphithi Sibeko said initially they started with 1.5 million auto assessments and this year about 4.5 million would be issued. He said they wanted to make the process as seamless as possible.

“If the auto-assessment says, based on the information we have, Sars owes you this, then within 72 hours the money will be in your account. And correspondingly, if you owe Sars, you have up until the end of the filing season to be able to settle what you owe Sars,” Sibeko said.

Last week the Revenue Service announced that the tax season would start on July 15 and that individual taxpayers would have until October 21 to submit returns. Provisional taxpayers have until January 20 to submit their documents while Trusts have between September 16 and January 20 to do theirs.

Sibeko said the digitisation of their systems and processes made it easier for people to interact with Sars, and the revenue service would automatically collect the data and do auto assessments for those who do not have complicated tax affairs.

“Sars operates on the basis that it has access to your medical aid, to your bank, it has access to an employer, to everyone. So Sars could almost formulate, to a greater extent, almost all your tax affairs,” he said.

However, he said Sars would not have captured other information like additional kilometres and top-up medical claims which taxpayers could add to the returns via efiling.

Sibeko told the Independent on Saturday that the “solar dispensation” of R15 000 had ended and that this was the last tax season to claim rebates for solar panels, and NHI taxes were still “way, way down the line”.

He said while Sars worked from a premise that “taxpayers are honest”, high net-worth individuals had complicated tax affairs which is why Sars had a specialised division to look into this.

“They use all sorts of arrangements to organise their tax affairs in a manner that obviously allows them to optimise their processes. We think that is permissible in law, that it is not tax evasion. It’s a way of avoidance that is not a criminal act.

“When we detect that there is something untoward, obviously, we have systems, we have technology, we have exchange of information with other revenue administrations,” said Sibeko.

Tax consultant Zeta King from management consulting firm Latita Africa said anyone with a side hustle or more than one source of income was legally obliged to declare that to Sars. She said it was recommended to get the help of a tax practitioner if you had more than one source of income, had sold any capital assets, had complicated investments or if you’re a trust fund beneficiary.

“Sars obviously has sources within all the banks in South Africa and just outside of the Republic and they’re able to trace any income coming into your account. They will raise an additional assessment based on any income you’ve made and you will have no opportunity to declare your expenses incurred in production of that income,” said King.

She also warned those trying to avoid tax by investing in cryptocurrency that any profits made from it were taxable.

King said some of the issues they frequently encountered in their tax practice was that sole proprietors were not aware they had to register for VAT once they made more than R1 million in turnover. In addition, many taxpayers who worked from home failed to capitalise on the tax benefits of having a home office simply because getting the required documentation was too much effort.

Independent on Saturday