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This year has been tough on many people and organisations but mostly government has had to do backflips to ensure that their key essential services are rendered. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is one of the government departments that had to learn to swim in a storm. They announced that the individual tax filing season for individuals has been postponed. Individual tax season was due to start at the beginning of this month and has been moved to August.

SARS is using this extended time to collect individual information from their employers, medical aid scheme, retirement annuity providers, and their bank. This is so that SARS can work out the tax owed by individuals or that SARS owes them before the tax season opens. If you accept to be auto assessed, you won’t have to file a tax return at all. The auto assessments started last year, but this year a much larger group of taxpayers will receive already completed returns.

What should you look out for?

  • Each taxpayer needs to validate their auto-prepared tax return with the information they received from third parties, before accepting the assessment
  • Check your IRP5/IT3(a)s and other tax certificates like your medical certificate, retirement annuity fund certificate, and other third-party data against the information provided in the return.
  • If you don’t have the certificates yet, contact your employer, medical scheme, retirement annuity fund, and other third parties to get it.

Once a taxpayer has compared the tax documents received from their employer, medical aid scheme, banking institutions and other parties in respect of the 2020 tax year to the SARS issued auto-assessment and agreed on the figures. Only then can one accept the auto-assessment.

How will you know if you will be assessed?

  • When the tax season opens, auto assessed taxpayers will receive an SMS stating that SARS has issued a draft auto assessment. The assessment will be available for viewing on SARS e-filing or on its MobiApp

It is important to note that you will have to accept to be auto assessed. If you don’t accept the auto assessment or were not invited, you will be able to file your tax return electronically as usual via e-filing or the SARS MobiApp. This means that all those who will be auto assessed will start their tax season at the end of July or beginning of August. This is not the only change that has been implemented by the national revenue service, if you have a problem with filing your tax return – you will have to make an appointment via SARS online appointment system before going to the offices.

Individual tax returns can be filed at a branch by the 22nd October 2020 or via e-filing or on the app by 16 November 2020. Provisional taxpayers have until 30 January 2021 to file their returns, if they don’t accept the automatic assessment. Taxpayers are however advised to work through a tax return to ensure that they consider all income and expenses section to ensure that nothing is left out. The reason for this is that SARS may have not received all your tax certificates or up to date tax certificates. In addition, individuals may miss out on claiming certain deductions.