SARS says preps under way to replace tech that blighted online service

Taxpayers have been left in the lurch, unable to access certain forms on eFiling because of a glitch in the SA Revenue Service's online system.
Taxpayers have been left in the lurch, unable to access certain forms on eFiling because of a glitch in the SA Revenue Service's online system.
Image: Gallo

The SA Revenue Service (SARS) said it was not blindsided by the sudden dysfunction of Adobe Flash on its website that caused frustration among clients who submit documents electronically.

American multinational computer software company Adobe announced as early as December 2 that its Flash software would be discontinued. The software's main function is to allow users to view multimedia content online and was SARS's software of choice.

“SARS anticipated this scenario and this was communicated to various stakeholders, including practitioners at the end of last year and we are in a process of mitigating the risks and ensuring an easy and seamless service for taxpayers to interact with SARS,” the tax collector said in a written statement to TimesLIVE.  

“SARS is busy replacing forms using Adobe Flash with the latest HTML5 technology and has made significant strides.”

The revenue service said the problem with the affected forms would be resolved by January 29 2021.

“In this replacement project SARS has given priority to all major taxes, with income tax for individuals, companies, trusts, PAYE and VAT already using forms built on HTML5,” the tax collector said.

“While SARS’ phasing in of  HTML5 has focused on the major tax types with high-volume online submissions, there are some forms which remain on Adobe Flash post December 2020. These include the following forms for registration (excluding registration for individuals which use HTML); transfer duty; dividends tax; submission of financial third party data; excise duties and levies — as indicated, this is planned for migration on 29 January 2021.”

But as SARS works on migrating its forms to HTML5, it called on taxpayers to use the guidelines provided and use the Microsoft Edge browser to complete and submit forms online.

“It is worth noting that from an individual income tax point of view more than 2.5 million returns have been filed online using the HTML5 form during the online filing season which ended 16 November 2020 for non-provisional taxpayers.

“With regards to our letters, assessment notices and objection processing forms, these do not use Adobe Flash for rendering to the taxpayer, but normal Adobe PDF, which is commonplace technology that is used on a daily basis.

“It is SARS’ firm understanding that Adobe will continue to support PDF and so will all browsers. Provisional taxpayers who are required to file returns, are assured that they can certainly use eFiling and the SARS MobiApp, which uses HTML5, on or before the deadline 29 January 2021.”

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