02/07/2012 Finace Deputy Minister Nhlanhla Nene, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and SARS Commissioner Oupa Magashula briefs the media on the launch of the 2012 tax season. Picture: Phill Magakoe

South Africans have been urged to be sincere and truthful with Sars this tax season. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said there would be consequences, including legal processes and penalties, for people who did not comply with their tax obligations.

“For the government to deliver services and the poor to benefit from taxes paid by South Africans, we are trying to generate values in our society, the right kind of values, which say we must declare honestly what we earn.

“These are values of solidarity, that we need to be mindful of others as well.”

The tax season is the period in which individuals and trusts submit their income tax returns for the year.

This year’s season started on Sunday.

“There are significant numbers of people who do not declare honestly.

“Those who choose to be non-compliant must bear the brunt of enforcement, which is a crucial part of keeping social balances right in any society,” Gordhan said.

He said authorities had several means to access information on anyone’s income.

“We need to send a very clear message to a percentage of South Africans.

“It is to your advantage if you declare properly all the income that you have had.

“Apart from employers submitting your information to Sars, they – Sars – also have other sources of getting the information.

“These include banks, companies and companies that service your cars.”

These third party sources would continue to give Sars the advantage of matching information provided by the taxpayer.

According to Sars, nearly 12 million taxpayers contributed R251.6 billion through personal tax income tax last year.

This amounted to 33.8 percent of the country’s total revenue collection.

Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula unveiled several technological innovations that would make this year’s filing season faster and more convenient.

“The explosion on to the market of smartphones, tablets and iPads has created a whole new generation of taxpayers who expect to do their business on the move, in the palm of their hands.

“These new ways of accessing eFiling via cellphones addresses a critical need for the majority of South Africans whose preferred, and sometimes only, way of accessing the internet is via their phones.”

Magashula said taxpayers who submitted manual returns through the post office or Sars branches had until September 28 to do so.

The deadline for non-provisional taxpayers who submit their returns electronically at Sars branches or through eFiling is November 23.

Provisional taxpayers who submit their income tax returns via eFiling have until January 31 to do so.

Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay said non-provisional taxpayers were the majority of South Africans with a single income, usually from salaries.

He described provisional taxpayers as the minority, “generally the wealthy citizens who had many incomes through businesses”.