File picture: Ziphozonke Lushaba/Independent Media

Cape Town - The South African Revenue Service (Sars) said on Monday that it took just three seconds each to assess more than 90 percent of the 5.74 million tax returns received by the close of tax season for non-provisional taxpayers on Friday.

Sars was quick to add that it had processed 99.9 percent of all returns electronically, assessing 92.4 percent of them within three seconds. The refund stage is also quite speedy, with 93.28 percent of refunds having been paid to taxpayers within 72 hours.

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A total of R15.5 billion in tax refunds had been paid to 1.98 million taxpayers by Friday’s deadline, Sars said.

The total number of returns received included 4.16 million individual submissions, 47 000 submissions by trusts for the 2015/16 tax year, and 1.52 million returns for previous tax years from individuals and trusts.

Sars said its contact centre had handled more than 3.6 million calls and branch offices had assisted in excess of 5.1 million taxpayers during the return season. It added that 173 000 taxpayers made use of the Help You e-File channel and 44 373 had used Sars’ mobile application.

Penalties to the value of R 1.64 billion had been imposed on defaulting taxpayers.

Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane said: “Sars wishes to express its appreciation to all those taxpayers that submitted their tax returns before the deadline. Paying tax is the highest form of patriotism.”

He added that Sars wanted to thank all its employees for making tax season successful.

“The focus, discipline and selfless service of the men and women of Sars are what makes Sars one of the best revenue services in the world,” Moyane said.