SARS makes changes for individual tax filing season as third Covid-19 wave hits South Africa

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) says that it is deeply concerned about the rise of Covid-19 cases in South Africa and that it is taking additional precautionary steps in response to the third wave of infections.

In terms of the Disaster Management Act, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) remains an essential service.

However, the tax collector said that it has always stressed the importance of balancing the continuity of this service with the risk of transmission. As such, it will be closing branches – but services and tax filing will continue.

The key things to note:
  • Tax filing season for individuals will still start on 1 July 2021;
  • Branches will be closed from 1 July 2021, with current plans to reopen on 16 August;
  • Individuals who are able to should do their tax filing through eFiling or the SARS mobile app;
  • Taxpayers who need assistance will receive it telephonically.

“With the rising case numbers and the onset of the third wave peak of the pandemic, we have decided to close our tax branches temporarily for physical visits from Thursday 01 July 2021.

“We are able to do so because the SARS digital platforms, as demonstrated during the peak of the second wave, allows taxpayers to continue to fulfil their obligations online,” it said.

Importantly, SARS said that the temporary closure of the tax branches will not affect the start of the filing season for individuals who traditionally file via eFiling or the SARS MobiApp.

These taxpayers are encouraged to continue doing so digitally, starting from 1 July 2021, it said. However, branch filing will not commence on this date.

“At this stage, we plan to commence physical branch visits on 16 August 2021, but will review this continuously. Taxpayers are advised not to come to a SARS branch. The branches will be closed until an announcement is made confirming the reopening date.”

During the branch closures, taxpayers who require assistance to file online will be assisted telephonically with the support of dedicated SARS staff, it said.

It added that all customs ports of entry will be open for frontline customs operations, but not for face-to-face client engagement other than for clearance and inspection purposes.

“In line with our stated commitment to modernise our systems and make it easy for taxpayers to meet their tax obligations, we continue our commitment to use technology to ensure continued service to taxpayers in a manner that ensures both the safety of our employees as well as taxpayers.”

SARS said that taxpayers can continue to make use of the following:

  • Bookings for virtual appointments may be made via the SARS website by following the link and sending an SMS to 47277 with the word “Booking” and your passport/ID No/Asylum permit No. and a SARS agent will contact you to arrange a booking on your behalf.
  • Taxpayers can use digital platforms by visiting www.sars.gov.za
  • The SARS Contact Centre (0800 00 7277) will continue to service any queries from members of the public.

SARS said it will continue to monitor the evolving Covid-19 pandemic and keep all South African taxpayers informed of any changes to these arrangements.

Article published by Business Tech | 25 June 2021
Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/finance/501133/sars-makes-changes-for-individual-tax-filing-season-as-third-covid-19-wave-hits-south-africa/