The South African Revenue Services (SARS) has opened the 2019 tax season for taxpayers who use its digital channels – eFiling and the SARS MobiApp.
This tax season has been staggered to improve service to taxpayers and encourage conversion to online filing.
This means taxpayers who use SARS eFiling or the SARS MobiApp to file their income tax returns can do so from 1 July until 4 December 2019. Taxpayers who wish to use online filing for the first time may also register from 1 July.
Those who prefer to file their income tax return at a SARS branch will be able to do so from 1 August 2019 until 31 October 2019.
Taxpayers do not need to submit an income tax return if they meet all of the following criteria:
- Their total employment income for the year before tax is not more than R500,000.
- They only receive employment income from one employer for the full tax year.
- They have no other form of income (e.g. car allowance, business income, rental income, taxable interest or income from another job).
- They don’t have any allowable tax-related deductions to claim (e.g. medical expenses, retirement annuity contributions and travel expenses).
New eFiling system
SARS has overhauled its online eFiling system, creating a friendlier interface designed to improve navigation and the submission of online returns.
Those familiar with the older interface may be somewhat thrown by the new layout, but it does deliver a drastically-improved experience.
Users can log in to the eFiling portal with the same user name and password they used in previous years, and they will be asked to verify their identity using either their email address or mobile number.
Upon selecting their preferred verification method, they will be sent a one-time PIN (OTP) which they will need to enter in under three minutes to access the eFiling service.
Once this has been entered, users will be presented with the new eFiling home screen, from which they can file their tax returns as normal.
Filing an income tax return
The new eFiling interface is far easier to use, but if you are unfamiliar with the process, you can file an income tax return by following the steps below:
- Click on the “Returns” menu in the left navigation bar, then select “Returns Issued”, and then “Personal Income Tax (ITR12)”.
- This will bring up a Return Search page which should display your income tax return for 2019. If this is not displayed, click on the “Request Return” button to create one.
- Click on the name of the tax return to begin working on it. The new system allows you to see clearly which fields need to be completed and checked for accuracy.
- When you are done, select “Submit Return to SARS” at the top of the page to complete your return.
Filing an income tax return is a lot easier using the new eFiling platform than the previous iteration, although if you still need some assistance, TaxTim has published a comprehensive guide.
SARS is stepping up its efforts to combat outstanding and late returns, and has said that it will also crack down on taxpayers who do not declare rental income from properties.
“We have also noticed Tax Preparers unethically promising taxpayers that they will secure a refund. They then look for opportunities to understate income or overstate expenses,” SARS said.
“This is a serious offence and could results in criminal charges as well as financial consequences for the taxpayer who remains accountable to SARS for their submission.”