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So, you have filed your annual income tax return and you have a refund due from SARS. 

‘Tis the season of Santa, Angels, Reindeers and Stockings and so you may have been counting on your tax refund to ease into the pricey season of festivities and celebrations.

Your first point of order might be to consider how naughty or nice you have been this year. Did you submit your return on time? Did you submit your supporting documents in the prescribed manner and form upon request from SARS? This might be the very reason why you receive either coal or a giant bow wrapped present from SARS under your Christmas tree this year. 

Remember that if you disagree with an assessment by SARS or an outcome of an objection, you can follow the objection or dispute resolution process by objecting or appealing within the prescribed number of days.

If your refund falls under a return that was selected for verification, an outcome of the verification must be communicated to you within 21 business days after the submission of the supporting documents in the prescribed manner and form to SARS. SARS could potentially have requested further supporting documentation, which should be communicated via your e-filing. 

If you did not submit the supporting documents on time or in the prescribed manner, this can seriously affect your refund status and there could even have been an additional assessment raised, resulting in an amount payable to SARS and no longer a refund due from SARS. 

Most taxpayers that have a refund due to them are first inclined to phone the SARS Contact Centre to query the outstanding refund. However, beware of taking this route. After the initial turnaround time of the refund, each time that you phone SARS to escalate the matter, the turnaround time is extended, and you might find yourself stuck treading snow. 

The first thing that you need to do to determine the status of the refund is open your e-filing correspondence. This could indicate that SARS has communicated with you and is still awaiting certain documentation before the refund can be paid out. Should this be the case, submit the required supporting documentation as soon as possible in clear, PDF format.

It could also be possible that SARS has requested verification of your banking details. Upon the request of bank verification by SARS, the refund will not be paid out until this has been done. Should this be applicable to you, you need to go to your nearest SARS branch with a certified copy of your ID, your proof of residence and 3 of your most recent months bank statements.

Take note that an amount will not be refunded by SARS if it does not exceed R 100 but will be carried forward to the next year of assessment.

Should you not receive any Christmas joy out of the above options, you can submit a complaint to SARS via e-filing under the “services” tab, as it is possible that there is a special stopper placed on the refund.

The complaint process takes 21 calendar days to be resolved, however should it not be resolved after this time you have the right to lodge a complaint at the Office of the Tax Ombud. 

Hope joy finds you wherever you are this Christmas

Willem Oberholzer CA(SA), MCom Tax, is executive director and Jade Els MCom Tax is a tax adviser at Probity Advisory.

PERSONAL FINANCE