Take charge and beat the tax deadline

SARS offices around the country are expected to be busy this week as the deadline for 2019 tax returns approaches. /Elijar Mushiana.
SARS offices around the country are expected to be busy this week as the deadline for 2019 tax returns approaches. /Elijar Mushiana.

The deadline for filing tax returns on October 31 is fast approaching. If you don't know what to do about it, this is not the time to stick your head in the sand.

Failing to fill in your return could result in a penalty of between R200 to R5000, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) says, and the first taxpayer defaulters have been prosecuted and fined for failure to submit their returns.

Here's some tips to help you complete your return easily.

I don't know how to do it

Visit your nearest Sars branch where staff will help you complete an electronic form. Sars offices will be open this Saturday morning.

Make use of Sars's online eFiling service (www.efiling.gov.za) and go to: Help-You-eFile, it connects you to a Sars tax agent who can talk you through the completion of your form.

Find a tax practitioner, although you will pay a fee, the human help may be worth it. For a cheaper option, you can use an online tax practitioner such as TaxTim (www.taxtim.co.za)

I don't have an IRP5

Your employer is obliged by law to issue you with an IRP5 certificate after submitting payroll reports to Sars.

The information on your IRP5 will then be prepopulated on your tax return. If not, then your employer has probably failed to submit your salary, benefits and tax details, and thus you need to contact your payroll person.

If your employer does not co-operate, you need to provide Sars with an affidavit and use your payslips or bank statements as proof of income to complete your return.

I forgot my eFiling password

Call Sars call centre on its toll free number: 0 800 007 277

I didn't keep a log book

If you get a travel allowance at work you can claim your mileage for work-related trips. If you haven't kept a logbook, but have a record of your appointments and their location, you can work out the mileage using Google maps.

But be careful about declaring anything that isn't accurate as it can be disallowed on the grounds of the slightest inconsistency or error.

I don't know medical expenses

Your medical scheme will be able to provide you with a tax certificate showing your contributions and the claims you submitted that were not paid.

Some schemes give you the option of requesting the tax certificate from their website or via their call centre.

I contributed to an RA and don't know what to declare

If you didn't receive a tax certificate reflecting the amounts you can deduct for contributions you can contact your RA provider for one. The certificate will contain the Sars source code which indicates where on your return you need to enter the amount.

I have investments and don't know what to declare

You need to declare any interest you have earned on any bank savings accounts, money market accounts or unit trust funds as well as any dividends you have earned in unit trust funds or shares or exchange traded funds.

Collect the IT3 certificates for each account or investment. If you don't have the certificates get in touch with the investment houses and ask them to send them to you.

Then add up the amounts of interest, dividends, foreign interest, foreign dividends and capital gains and write down the total for each of the different source codes used. Enter the total next to the relevant source code on your return.

If you have a tax-free saving account, you must answer "Y" when asked "Were there any transactions [contributions, transfers, withdrawals, income received/accrued] on any tax-free investments held by you during this year of assessment?"

The company with which you have a tax-free savings account will issue an IT3(s) certificate and you must use it to complete the tax-free investment section of your return.

Tax on investments

● Declaring your investments won’t necessarily incur additional tax on the amounts you declare because each year you enjoy an exemption for interest of R23 800 (or R34 500 if you are older than 65);

● Dividends tax is paid on your behalf by the company in which you own shares or the company that manages your unit trust or ETF;

● You can make up to R40 000 of capital gains each year without paying tax; and

● If your investment is in a tax-free savings account, you don’t pay any tax on the interest, dividends or capital gains. Sars will apply all these exemptions for you, though

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