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We get it, life can throw unexpected curveballs, and sometimes meeting tax submission deadlines can be a real challenge and so begs the question, can you get an extension on your tax submission deadline?   According to Zulfah Mullins, Tax Compliance Officer at Hobbs Sinclair Inc., the simple answer is yes, but the circumstances have to be absolutely beyond your control and there are some important things to keep in mind.

If you are faced with extenuating circumstances such as a natural disaster, civil war, medical incapacitation, or heaven forbid, being locked up abroad, you could reach out for an extension.  However, these situations are rare, and you would have to provide a proper and convincing justification.

One crucial consideration is whether you qualify as a provisional tax payer, as your returns are only due in January, not October like everyone else. However, there’s nothing stopping you from submitting early.  “As a tax practitioner, year-on-year, as soon as that tax deadline hits we get an influx of penalty notices for individuals,” says Mullins.  “If you are lucky, SARS may announce an extension at their discretion, but you cannot bank on this and if you do not submit your return on time, you can and will be penalised every month, for each month the submission is late – up to a maximum of 35 months,” she adds.

If you disagree with a penalty, you can dispute it by requesting a remittance. However, penalties will continue to accumulate while the dispute is ongoing unless you send a separate application requesting a suspension of payment, which will withhold additional penalties until the dispute is resolved.

If extensions are granted, and it’s a big if, they are typically short, ranging from a week to two weeks.  So, when you ask for one, make sure you’re ready and have all the necessary documentation on hand.

The bottom line is that SARS has made it easier for taxpayers to submit their returns, providing online services like a mobile app for user-friendly e-filing, and an e-filing help function for virtual assistance.  Their branches nationwide are open for those who prefer in-person assistance, and for or the elderly, or indisposed. “They even have satellite/pop-up branches across the country in more remote areas, available throughout the year, before the end of the tax season so there really is no reason why you could not and should not submit your returns on time,”  adds Mullins.  SARS also rolls out consistent updates on e-filing, host webinars and maintain a YouTube channel with resources to make it easier for everyone to use.

Mullins urges individuals to make sure they don’t leave submissions to the last minute.

“Don’t let that tax deadline sneak up on you. Unless you are locked up, your house has burnt down or you’ve got a doctor’s note, I urge you to get your tax submissions in by the due date or else you are likely to incur penalties.  And remember there’s always help available when you need it.”

For more information, you can visit the following online resources:

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