As the 2020 tax filing season draws nearer, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is introducing a number of initiatives to make the filing of income tax returns for individuals easier. Among these changes is the introduction of an automatic assessment to be issued to a significant number of non-provisional taxpayers from the 31 July 2020.

SARS has in the past automatically included information confirming contributions made to an individual’s medical aid scheme and retirement annuity contributions.  For the upcoming 2020 Tax Season, the system has been further enhanced to include information relating to investment income received from financial services companies.  What is important to remember is that SARS can only use data that is available to it to pre-populate individual tax returns. This could result in income from other sources such as trust distributions or other deductions, for example, donations, travel allowances, out-of-pocket medical expenses, being inadvertently omitted and not accounted for on assessment.

The 2020 auto-assessments have been designed to simplify an individual’s tax compliance and eliminate the need to complete and submit personal income tax returns. By pre-populating information already available to SARS that has been provided to them by 3rd party institutions e.g. banks, medical aids, financial services companies, SARS will use this information to provide the taxpayers with a calculation and inform the taxpayer thereof via SMS.  

It is important for taxpayers to note that should they receive an SMS notification of an auto-assessment having been issued, the onus still lies with the individual taxpayer to either accept or decline the auto-assessment. This can all be done using one of SARS’ digital channels like eFiling or the Mobi-App. Once the auto-assessment calculation has been accepted, an original assessment will be issued by SARS as per normal. Refunds will be processed as in the past but on the reverse side, if there is a resulting amount payable to SARS this should be settled promptly.

If the auto-assessment is declined, the taxpayer then still need to complete the tax return and submit as per normal.

What YOU need to know

  • If you have not received an SMS by 1 September 2020, you may still required to complete and submit an income tax return (ITR12). The filing season for individual tax submissions are as follows:
    • Manual submission making use of SARS branch offices – deadline date for submission is 22 October 2020.
    • Non-provisional taxpayers or individuals who don’t accept the auto-assessments have until    16 November 2020 to file their returns if making use of eFiling.
    • Provisional taxpayer have until 29 January 2021, if filed via eFiling. 
  • While SARS has access to information from certain institutions, they may not have all the information that has an impact on your final assessment.  It is therefore important that taxpayers use this time to collate all their relevant 2020 tax documentation issued by 3rd party institutions and ensure that all details reflected are correct and up to date.
  • It is also important to check your personal details on SARS’ database to avoid any mismatches with information captured on their system.  These would include insuring that your banking details are correctly reflected and validated, address changes etc. to help avoid any mismatches which could delay any potential refunds from being processed by SARS.
  • If you do receive a SMS from SARS indicating that you have been auto-assessed, it is imperative that you check the calculation information with the supporting documentation you have on hand to confirm that you have been assessed correctly.

It is your obligation as a taxpayer to ensure that information submitted to SARS is correct and accurate. It is advisable that taxpayers seek professional assistance where you are uncertain of the mechanics of submitting tax returns or reviewing assessments. Our firm continuously monitors changes and advancements and we are ready to assist you with the completion and filing of your income tax return.

Ntsika Maki

Individual Tax Compliance Officer, Cape Town

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