Taxpayers could soon see the end of long queues when filing their tax returns this year.
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) announced yesterday that it has improved its online filing and efiling at a Sars branch, with several innovations for Tax Season 2019 designed to make it simpler and more convenient for taxpayers to file an income tax return.
Sars also announced that all taxpayers whose total employment income is not more than R500 000 will not have to file an income tax return this year.
Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said the revenue service had decided to increase the income tax threshold from R350 000 in a bid to alleviate the burden on taxpayers.
“We have decided to increase the threshold from R350 000 to an annual earnings of R500 000. And this means you are not required to submit a return if your total income for the year is not more than R500 000,” Kieswetter said.
“So when you have a simple return below R500 000 with no additional complexities, you will not be required to file. And we will send an SMS to this group of taxpayers who are not required to file and we encourage taxpayers to heed his call as it is intended to really simplify matters for them.”
Taxpayers who would be exempt from filing an income tax return include those who receive income from a single employer, those who have no other form of income such as car allowance, business income, taxable interest, and rental income, and those that do not have any additional deductable income such as medical expenses, retirement annuity (RA) contributions and travel expenses.
Mabetha Pila, the business development manager at 10X Investments, said taxpayers who earned less than the threshold would still need to file if they earned and income from other investments or if they needed to claim for tax-related deductions such as medical scheme and RA contributions.
“The increasing of the threshold is a good thing, and what will happen is that if you are below the threshold Sars will send you an SMS that you don’t need to file,” said Pila.
He said the improved filing system would still have to play itself out before long queues become a thing of the past, particularly for people who are not yet familiar with filing online.
The Sars innovations also include the issuing of customised notices indicating specific documents required in the event of an audit or verification and a simulated outcome issued before a taxpayer has filed.
According to Sars, the objectives that drive these changes are improved service delivery, increased conversion to online channels such as efiling and the Sars MobiApp for simple income tax returns as well as improving our ability to detect non-compliance.
The revamped Sars MobiApp will make it easier than before to use a smartphone to file a simple income tax return and will include new and convenient features such as simpler navigation; the introduction of biometric authentication; a one-time pin as an added security feature; the ability to reset username and password; security questions; and the scanning and uploading of supporting documents.
Also, efiling, the other online platform, has been improved to make it easier to navigate and perform the functions necessary to file a return, submit supporting documents and make a payment as well as improved browser compatibility.
To further reduce unnecessary trips to Sars branches, taxpayers who are not required to file a return will receive a simulated outcome from Sars as if they had filed a return and the taxpayer can accept this outcome or update the return and file.
This year’s tax season starts on August 1 for taxpayers who file their income tax returns at a Sars branch. Those who go to a Sars branch will be encouraged to register as users of efiling and the MobiApp, and once they are registered for the online channels Sars staff will demonstrate how to use them to file a simple tax return.
Sars branches will provide wi-fi for taxpayers to use efiling or the MobiApp at the branch.
Taxpayers who are registered for efiling or have access to the MobiApp can file their income tax returns from July 1 through these channels.
The closing dates for Tax Season are October 31 for branch filing, December 4 for non-provisional taxpayers who use efiling and the MobiApp, and January 31, 2020 for provisional taxpayers who use efiling.