E-filing has taken the tedious task of submitting one’s tax returns and made it a lot simpler and more user-friendly.
The digitisation of the tax return system has generally been seen as a positive move by South Africans, but it has also opened up the possibility of additional issues.
One MyBroadband reader found this out the hard way after they struggled to complete their tax return digitally due to flaws in SARS’ e-filing system.
The reader requested their 2019 return through the online system, but had problems saving this data.
After troubleshooting their issue, they eventually managed to save their return by reinstalling Flash Player.
Then, to check that their data was still recorded accurately, the reader printed out their return.
They soon discovered that when they open their saved return online, at least two pages were missing.
The reader tried to find a way to add these pages, but this was not possible, so they called SARS’ Help-u-Efile helpline for further assistance. They were told by the agent to create a new return from scratch.
However, the reader claims that the e-filing platform does not seem to allow for deletions – leaving them unable to fix and complete their return.
When the reader contacted SARS via email for further assistance, they received an automated response which did not elicit any assistance.
Instead, the mail simply provided the reader with the phone number of SARS’ Contact Centre – an avenue the reader had already taken.
The email also asked the user to visit the SARS website for further information on submitting a query, and said that the turnaround time for such a query is 21 working days.
MyBroadband asked SARS for comment on this issue, but did not receive a response by the time of publication, nor had the MyBroadband reader received any further correspondence.
Big issues for e-filing
This is just one of many issues e-filing users have suffered during the current tax season when trying to submit their returns online.
SARS recently published an apology for a variety of technical issues suffered by e-filing users, including failed login attempts, not receiving one-time pins, the inability to upload supporting documents, and data issues.
“SARS takes these issues very seriously, and all efforts have been made to resolve them expeditiously and minimise the impact on compliant taxpayers, who want to fulfil their filing obligations,” SARS said in a statement.
SARS highlighted that when it opened the latest filing season on 1 July 2019, the intention was to make the process easier for taxpayers.
“In our endeavour to ensure a smooth service, while maintaining cybersecurity protocols and staying abreast of technology, various changes were introduced this tax filing season for taxpayer’s convenience,” said SARS.
These changes include new security protocols, the introduction of HTML5 technology, an all-new MobiApp, and a newly refreshed e-filing website.
SARS added that the process for taxpayers who earn under R500,000 per year, with income from a single employer, was also improved by a simulated tax calculation which can simply be accepted by these applicants.