SARS urges taxpayers to use its online services during lockdown

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has urged taxpayers to remain compliant and make use of its online services as the country battles an ailing economy compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If there was ever a time where delivering on our mandate matters, it is now. During this time, it remains extremely important for all taxpayers to remain compliant,” said SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter.

This, Kieswetter said means taxpayers must register when they are legally required to; submit tax and customs declarations, returns, and relevant submissions when it is required and make the necessary payments when they become due, unless they have entered into a permissible payment arrangement with SARS.

The Commissioner was speaking at a briefing where he outlined the impact of COVID-19 on revenue collection service’s on Tuesday.

In light of the pandemic, government needs tax revenue to provide much needed relief to businesses and individuals, and especially to keep an army of community health workers, and other medical and frontline workers employed.

Many businesses and individuals are desperately in need of refunds that are payable – which requires SARS to perform the necessary verification and assurance work and to manage the risks related to refunds.

“Our customs officials have had to ensure that the essential and legitimate PPE, medical equipment and supplies as well as other permitted cargo can be lawfully moved through our ports of entry.

“We also had to prepare our core administration systems to administer all the tax relief measures announced by government,” said Kieswetter.

SARS boosts digital services amid COVID-19

In an effort to balance SARS’ essential mandate and government’s national effort to curb COVID-19, the revenue collection entity has reconfigured its work to convert more taxpayers to its digital services and modify its operations.

“I am pleased to share that our technology and data management teams have worked tirelessly and added 30 additional functionalities to our digital offering including: automated registration for PIT – almost 6 000 registrations have already taken place.

“Notice of registration for VAT now available on e-filing, allowing VAT vendors to view, print or save their Notice of Registration – almost 5 000 have already been facilitated,” said Kieswetter.

To adhere to social distancing, taxpayers are urged to use the enhanced e-filing system. Non-filers can now also submit supporting documents via the web – to reduce the need to come to visit offices. To date, over 1 200 submissions have been made.

SARS has also suspended the need for VAT interviews as a pre-registration requirement to post registration – almost 3 000 taxpayers have taken this up.

Make an appointment online

In support of public health and social distancing measures, SARS introduced an online appointment system for those taxpayers and tax practitioners who remain insistent or unable to convert to digital.

“We are currently redesigning our website to enhance navigation and functionality and align it to our refreshed branding which we will launch shortly. We will announce additional enhancements as they are completed,” said Kieswetter.


Now read: South Africa’s virus response exposes government divisions

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SARS urges taxpayers to use its online services during lockdown