SARS makes filing tax returns child’s play

MobiApp and eFiling revamp simplify process

Rows of taxpayers wait to be assisted with their income tax returns at the SARS office in Port Elizabeth. SARS is encouraging all taxpayers to register as users of eFiling and the MobiApp. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN
Rows of taxpayers wait to be assisted with their income tax returns at the SARS office in Port Elizabeth. SARS is encouraging all taxpayers to register as users of eFiling and the MobiApp. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

Filing your tax return this coming filing season is going to be as easy as doing cellphone banking, the South African Revenue Service promises.

In fact, SARS Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter, says cellphone filing “will become so simple that if you have all your documents uploaded, you will be able to file a simple, non-complex return in four minutes”.

The new tax filing season – for returns relating to the period from March 1 last year to February 28 this year - kicks off on July 1 for those filing independently online or on the app and a month later for those who need help at a branch.

SARS has introduced several measures this tax filing season to encourage you to declare your income and to make it easier for you to fill in and submit your tax return, Kieswetter says.

New measures include enhancements to the eFiling service that is available online via the internet and the revamp of the SARS MobiApp, which will allow for the filing of simple tax returns.

Taxpayers will see a revamped income tax return form on the eFiling site, enjoy beefed up technology which will eliminate issues with browser compatibility and experience simplified log in and password resetting changes.

The revamped SARS MobiApp will make it even easier than before to use a smartphone to file a simple income tax return because of new and convenient features such as simpler navigation, biometric authentication, the ability to reset your username and password and it now allows for the scanning and uploading of supporting documents, he says.

One-time PINs have been added to address any security concerns that taxpayers might have, he says.

To use the MobiApp, you need to download the SARS MobiApp from the Playstore if you are using an Android cell phone such as Samsung, Huawei, Sony or Nokia or from Apple’s App Store if your cell phone of choice is an iPhone.

Taxpayers who are registered for eFiling or have access to the MobiApp can file their income tax returns from July 1 via these channels and if you need help with the processes you can visit a branch where officials will help you file electronically. The closing date for filing your tax return online is December 4 2019.

Kieswetter says taxpayers who go to a SARS branch will be encouraged to register as users of eFiling and the MobiApp. Once they are registered for these two online channels, SARS staff will demonstrate how to use these online channels to file a simple income tax return. SARS branches will provide free wi-fi for taxpayers to use eFiling or the MobiApp at branches.

If, however, you want to hand over your documents and have a SARS branch agent do the work for you, you will only be able to receive such assistance from August 1 this year when the tax season for branch filing opens. The closing date for filing at a branch will be October 31 this year.

If you meet ALL of the following criteria you need NOT submit a tax return:

  • You only receive employment income from one employer for the full tax year.
  • You have no other form of income, for example, a car allowance, business income, rental income, taxable interest or income from another job or side business such as selling cakes over the weekend.
  • You don’t have any additional allowable tax-related deductions to claim such as medical expenses, retirement annuity contributions and travel expenses.

SARS has announced that to reduce unnecessary trips to SARS branches, taxpayers who are not required to file a return will receive a simulated tax calculation from SARS as if they had filed a return. The taxpayer can accept this outcome, or update the return and then file it.

The dates for 2018/2019 Tax Season are as follows:

  • 1 August to 31 October 2019 for filing at a SARS branch. 
  • 1 July to 4 December 2019 for non-provisional taxpayers who use eFiling and the MobiApp.
  • 1 July to 31 January 2020 for provisional taxpayers who use eFiling.

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