The individual tax filing season, which generally opens at the start of July each year, refers to the period in which an individual is required to submit their annual income tax return. It is worth noting that not all individuals are required to make the submission.
Your tax return can be submitted to SARS in one of two ways. The first is via the SARS E-Filing channel where all details may be captured on the system and any requests for supporting documents can be addressed on the system as well. The second is by visiting your local SARS branch office where the SARS agents will assist you in completing your tax return. It is important to note that not all SARS agents are equipped to deal with technically complex queries and, in this instance, it would be best to reach out to your local tax practitioner for assistance.
As a taxpayer you need to understand whether or not you're a provisional taxpayer. If you earn income from a salary from one employer and you have no other sources of income, you will not be required to register as a provisional taxpayer. However if you have other sources of income, like rental from a property or you conduct a business as a sole trader or you earn investment or interest income in excess of the exemption thresholds, then you might be required to register as a provisional taxpayer. You should consult with a tax professional if you have any doubts because failure to register could result in SARS imposing both penalties and interest on your assessment.
Who is required to file a tax return?
Certain taxpayers are not required to file a tax return. If you earned a salary from only one employer and your gross income did not exceed R 500 000, then you do not need to file a return. However where you work for more than one employer, earned more than R 500 000 or if you received a travel allowance or company car fringe benefits, then you must file a tax return. In addition, if you intend to claim tax deductions for things such as private retirement savings contributions, medical expenses or donations to a public benefit organisation, then you must file a tax return.
Failure to submit your tax return when required to do so may be a criminal offense. SARS has previously publicised in the media, the names of offenders that were charged of criminal offenses for failure to submit their returns. In addition, SARS is entitled to impose administrative non-compliance penalties. These penalties are dependent on your level of taxable income and are imposed on a monthly basis until such time that your returns are filed. While the taxpayer is non-compliant, you will not be able to obtain a tax clearance certificate. What is clear is that it is becoming almost impossible to escape the SARS radar, so you need to understand your obligations to file a tax return. You should consult with a registered tax practitioner if you have any doubts regarding your obligations.
Supervisor: Individual Tax Compliance, RSM South Africa