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Long queues as tax season opens

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Local residents outside the SARS office. Picture: Danie van der Lith

LONG queues have formed outside the offices of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) after tax season 2017 officially opened on Saturday for eFilers and on Monday for branch filers.

Sars said in a statement this week that taxpayers could now commence completing and submitting their 2017 personal income tax returns for the 2016/17 tax year.

“Tax season is the single biggest annual engagement between ordinary citizens and South African Revenue Services (Sars),” the statement said.

“Last year during tax season, Sars received 6.31 million income tax returns. Tax season is an opportunity for taxpayers to reconcile their personal income and tax-related deductions with Sars. This allows Sars to assess if there were any factors that were not accounted for over the tax year, thus ensuring that the taxpayer is compliant.”

For the bulk of personal income taxpayers, July to November is the period to complete and submit their tax returns.

Over the past few years, Sars has tried to make the process even easier for those wanting to comply and “pay their fair share”.

Taxpayers have been encouraged to note the dates for submission for both non-provisional and provisional taxpayers.

Non-provisional taxpayers who eFile or submit their returns electronically at a Sars branch have until November 24 this year to file. Provisional taxpayers who eFile, have until January 31, 2018 to submit their returns.

Manual submissions through the post or at Sars drop boxes must be made by September 22 this year.

Sars spokesperson, Mark Kingon, warned at the launch of tax season, that all residents who had a business, had to file, even if that business was in a loss position.

“If people are earning more than R350 000 or have income from multiple sources, they need to file their returns.”

Sars is also warning there will be strict consequences for taxpayers who’ve failed to file returns over the past two years.

Kingon says evaders should be ready to face prosecution.

“If you have employees and you fail to file for two or more years, we put a penalty on your tax account which can range from R250 a month to R16 000 for the very wealthy, failing which we can prosecute (because) it’s a criminal offence not to fulfil your obligation.

Sars has also warned taxpayers not to fall victim to tax identity fraud and to protect their taxpayer information, login name and password at all times.

“Sars will never request a taxpayer’s banking details or personal details in any correspondence that they receive via post, e-mail or SMS. Sars will not send them correspondence with hyperlinks to other websites – even those of banks.”