Tax season off to a flying start

1 July 2014

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) received more than 50 000 returns in less than 12 hours as the country’s 2014 tax season got under way on Tuesday.

Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said 14 000 Sars officials would be deployed at strategic points across the country to make the filing process easier for people. Temporary service points will also be set up to help people submit their returns.

“As of today, nine fully equipped mobile tax units are being deployed to remote areas throughout the country,” Nene said. “In 2013, the mobile tax units engaged with more than 752 000 individuals through awareness, tax education campaigns and the filing of returns across the country.”

Sars has also opened six new branch offices in the past three years in order to ensure that people are able to submit their tax returns. A refurbished Sars branch office was opened in Mthata in the Eastern Cape just last week, while a second branch office opened its doors in Soweto, at Bara Mall.

Warning to would-be fraudsters

Nene said officials would be on the lookout for fraudulent tax returns.

“We would like to warn those who will be submitting fraudulent tax returns that we are on the lookout for them,” he said, adding that Sars had improved its ability to verify taxpayer information through third-party data.

“We advise taxpayers that Sars will in particular focus on medical aid claims, retirement fund contributions, income protection policy contributors and tax payers who submit revised returns for previous years.”

‘Avoid unregistered tax practitioners’

Sars Acting Commissioner Ivan Pillay advised people to check the credibility of tax practitioners, and to ensure that they are registered, before making use of their services.

According to Pillay, only around 11 000 of the 38 000 tax practitioners in the country are accredited, giving them the right to complete and submit tax returns on behalf of their clients.

Taxpayers who are concerned about getting scammed through e-mails or SMSes can call the fraud and anti-corruption hotline on 0800 00 2870 or the Sars contact centre on 0800 00 7277.

The deadline for manual submission of returns is 26 September, for all non-provisional taxpayers is 21 November, and for provisional taxpayers using e-filing is 30 January.