Tax returns made simple

10 May 2007

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has launched a new, simpler income tax return and filing process to assist both individual and business taxpayers.

Individuals will receive their returns by mid-July 2007 and will have until 31 October 2007 to submit them, while companies will receive returns in September and will have six to 12 months after the end of their financial year to submit the returns.

Sars will also now pay money electronically into taxpayers’ bank accounts, and only issue cheques on the request of taxpayers.

Launching the new system in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said the changes would ensure improved efficiency and faster turn-around times at Sars.

The benefits of the new system include electronic filing, or “e-filing”, allowing taxpayers to file their tax returns via Sars eFiling

Taxpayers will also be able to lodge objections electronically via eFiling, and keep track of the progress of their tax returns by obtaining information from call centres and Sars branches.

The new system will allow Sars to use new statistical methods to identify risks and enhance Sars’ ability to identify errant taxpayers.

South Africa’s registered taxpayers have increased from 4.8-million in 2003 to almost seven million currently. Manuel pointed out that the country’s expanding tax base translated into more revenue for government services – as well as more work for Sars officials.

Manuel said a “unique multiple relationship” between Sars and the country’s employers, tax practitioners and employees had ensured increased tax compliance and growth in revenue collection from R2.7-billion in 1997/98 to R495-billion in 2006/07.

New jobs and skills being developed in SA meant an increase in the number of taxpayers, and of the movement of taxpayers into higher income categories, the minister said.

Sars Commissioner Pravin Gordhan said Sars’ success was based on public education, continuous improvement of services and visible and effective enforcement.

Gordhan emphasised that Sars needed to make it easy for taxpayers to comply. “We need the partnership with employers and tax practitioners to ensure that they and their employees submit complete tax return forms and to use our eFiling for that purpose.

“We want more completeness from individuals and business.”

Source: BuaNews