Pretoria – With six weeks to go to before the end of the 2016 tax season, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has received over four million tax returns.
“SARS has already received 4 166 243 individual income tax returns. This figure also includes 1 217 428 returns received for previous years of assessment,” said SARS in a statement on Wednesday.
Of the returns received so far, over 1.4 million returns were submitted via eFiling, while over 1.5 million returns were submitted electronically at a SARS branch by taxpayers who prefer face-to-face interaction with trained branch consultants.
The revenue service encouraged tax payers to submit their tax returns via eFiling.
“In fact, this helps avoid standing in long queues at SARS branches. Most importantly, eFiling is quick, easy and can be done from anywhere as long as you have secure internet access.
“Those taxpayers who need guidance when filing their returns via eFiling can use Help-You-eFile, an online service which connects taxpayers to a SARS agent telephonically in order to navigate eFiling together, every step of the way.”
In addition, the SARS eFiling mobisite and SARS eFiling App is available for techno-savvy taxpayers.
The eFiling mobisite has been made more user-friendly and accommodating for blind and partially-sighted taxpayers.
SARS warned tax payers to be on the lookout for fraud and phishing scams where criminals try to gain access to their banking details by sending emails which pretend to be from SARS.
“SARS will never ask for personal, tax banking or eFiling details (passwords, login information, etc) via phone or email. Taxpayers will also never be asked to log into the eFiling website from a link in an email.
“SARS has tightened its controls on the tax return process in light of the challenges encountered towards possible tax fraud. Also, this is to prevent incorrect refund pay-outs.”
SARS assured the public that not all taxpayers are affected by these additional tighter controls. In fact, these controls are in place to protect the taxpayer and to ensure everyone pays their fair share of taxes due to the fiscus.
“Taxpayers are urged to take ownership of their tax affairs even if they are making use of a registered tax practitioner or intermediary. This includes protecting their personal details and the credentials used on electronic devices.
“Taxpayers are also urged to always authenticate communication from SARS with the contact centre or at their nearest branch.”
The revenue service said a legitimate refund gets paid as soon as the information submitted on the tax return has been verified.
During this tax season, the following turnaround times have been achieved:
– Returns assessed within 3 seconds – 91.73%
– Returns assessed within 24 hours – 97.55% (this figure includes returns that were assessed within 3 seconds and those which were assessed in a period more than 3 seconds but under 24 hours)
– Refunds paid within 72 hours – 94.33%
“However, if a return was flagged and a refund is due, it will only be paid once all outstanding requirements have been met by the taxpayer,” said SARS.
Tax season 2016 – which began on 1 July – will end for non-provisional taxpayers on 25 November 2016.