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It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it

In response to the economic and fiscal challenges Covid-19 has presented, SARS has introduced a 4- phase tax filing process. This seamless filing season started on 15 April and continues through August 2020. The new phased system is intended to encourage a more digital, streamlined system and ensure that employers are compliant and third party information is submitted, ahead of individual taxpayers submitting their returns.

The tax filing season as we know it is has changed, and the deadlines that we were used to have been spanned out through this new phased process as follows:

Phase 1 (deadline 31 May 2020) – submission of employees’ and other third-party data by providers such as medical schemes, retirement annuity funds and banks.

Phase 2 – validation – SARS will be validating the third-party data and following up on employers and others who failed in their duty to file their data to SARS on time.

Phase 3 – known as the ‘auto-assessment’ process – will commence on 1 August 2020, where a significant number of taxpayers will receive draft assessments from SARS, which they then need to confirm and submit. It is important to include your Tax Practitioner as part of this process. SARS will rely on all the third party data that was successfully submitted and confirmed.  This is most relevant to taxpayers who typically just receive one source of income (salary) and have medical aid and/or retirement annuity, and who may receive interest on their bank accounts, etc.

Phase 4 – The fourth phase opens on 1 September where remaining taxpayers with more intricate tax returns and those that have not accepted or received an auto-assessment, can submit.

The assessment year in which this applies to runs from 1 March 2019 to 29 February 2020 and the following deadlines are worth noting:

  • Non-Provisional Taxpayers who file electronically (eFiling): 1 September to 16 November 2020
  • Provisional Taxpayers who file electronically (eFiling): 1 September 2020 to 29 January 2021
  • Taxpayers who cannot file electronically can do so at a SARS branch by appointment: 1 September to 22 October 2020.
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