Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo and South African Revenue Services Commissioner Edward Kieswetter launching the 2019 tax season for taxpayers who use e-filing and the SARS MobiApp. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

Pretoria - South African Revenue Services (SARS) Commissioner Edward Kieswetter on Monday urged taxpayers to make "honest declarations" as the 2019 tax filing season kicked off.

"If you are required to submit a return, we urge and request you to make an honest and accurate declaration of any additional income or legitimate expenses which we may not already have. Tax filing is about doing the right thing, it's about paying our taxes in contribution towards building a capable state," said Kieswetter in Pretoria.

He said SARS is in an intense effort to continue rebuilding public confidence in the revenue collector -- a key ingredient for voluntary tax compliance in South Africa.

"Public confidence is important for us because, without it, we cannot achieve voluntary compliance. We do that through a very clear process of helping taxpayers to understand our obligations, and to ensure that we can deliver a service that is easy and simple for those many taxpayers who are honest and want to comply. We also make it difficult for taxpayers who choose not to comply, and make sure that we can enforce the necessary obligations," he said.

SARS is urging taxpayers to comply with the legal tax requirements, by using its "updated digital channels" -- e-filing and the SARS MobiApp.

At the same event, Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo also appealed the call for taxpayers to voluntary file their returns.

"I call on all taxpayers to comply with their tax obligations. Let us do the right thing together," said Masondo.

The deputy minister said he believes that SARS has turned the corner, and is currently in a position to play its critical role in contributing to a developmental South Africa and economic recovery.

"We all know that SARS has been through a difficult period. I salute those SARS employees who stuck it out and managed to get through that traumatic period. You have shown that you are dedicated to your calling. You've also shown what it means to put your fellow citizens first - which is the essence of Batho Pele," said Masondo.

In a statement, SARS said in a major departure from previous years Tax Season 2019 is staggered. This is in the revenue collector's bid to improve service to taxpayers and encourage conversion to online filing.

"This [staggering of the tax season]  allows taxpayers who use e-filing and the SARS MobiApp for smartphones and tablets to file their income tax returns from today [July 1] until December 4. Taxpayers who wish to use online filing for the first time may also register as from July 1," SARS said.

Taxpayers who want to file their income tax returns at a SARS branch may do so from August 1 until October 31 -- a much shorter period than that allowed for users of e-filing and the SARS MobiApp.

African News Agency (ANA)