SARS is changing the tax filing season due to the coronavirus – here’s what you need to know

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has outlined changes to the coming tax filing season due to the impact of the coronavirus.

In a presentation on Tuesday (5 May), SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter said that the season will be comprised of three phases with a number of key changes being made.

Below he outlined the phases and what will be expected of taxpayers and companies over each period.

Phase  1 – Employer filing

15 April 2020 – 31 May 2020

Kieswetter said that compliance by employers in respect of payroll taxes (PAYE) is very important, and that there will be a renewed focus at SARS to ensure that all employers are fully compliant in terms of their filing and payment obligations.

“We expect all employers to fully comply because this ensures a much lower burden of compliance for their employees in respect of their filing obligations.

“Employers are legally appointed agents on behalf of SARS. We remind employers that it is a criminal offence to collect income tax from their employees, and not pay this over to SARS.

“We also appeal to employers, along with other providers of third-party information to fulfil this requirement by the end of May 2020.”

Kieswetter said that third-party Information allows us to use data modelling and artificial intelligence to perform the final assessment of all standard taxpayers and provide the majority of individual taxpayers with a seamless filing experience.

Third-party providers include:

  • Employers;
  • Banks;
  • Financial Service Companies who administer retirement fund and pension schemes;
  • Medical Savings and insurance schemes.

Phase 2 – Tax file updates

1 June – 31 August 2020

During this period taxpayers are requested to engage with SARS to ensure that their tax files are up to date, in terms of general hygiene checks, banking details, address changes, Kieswetter said.

He added that most of these tasks can be completed online.

“All outstanding third party information will also be followed up during this period to ensure the highest level of data integrity. Third-party data providers, including employers, who remain wilfully non-compliant will be charged criminally during this period.

“During this phase a significant number of taxpayers will receive auto-assessments and given an opportunity to confirm their acceptance of the assessment outcome according to SARS.”

Kieswetter added that during phase 2, individual taxpayers who are required to file but have not been auto-assessed may file early via online facilities if their employers and other third-party data providers are fully complaints (which includes no PAYE debt without a proper and secure deferment arrangement).

Individuals who are not required to file will be informed, he said.

Phase 3 – Employee filing 

1 September – 31 January 2021

Kieswetter said that during this phase, individuals who are required to file will be reminded.

“Individuals who are non-provisional taxpayers or have not accepted the outcome of an auto-assessment are required to file as from 1 September through to 16 November 2020 and encouraged to file using our on-line channels to minimise visits to our offices.

“Individuals who are non-provisional taxpayers, who make use of our Branch facility has until the 22 October 2020 to file.

“Provisional Taxpayers who have not accepted the outcome of an auto-assessment are required to file when they are ready but not later than 31 January 2021.”