With the October deadline for personal income tax return filing approaching quickly, meeting that deadline might leave personal tax payers feeling overwhelmed and squirmish. However, having your required documents in order and being aware of the filing channels, the process of filing should be pretty pleasant and painless.
As wise people (…sometimes myself too) say, “only death and taxes are inevitable”. So let us, Tax-filers prepare to plunge into the home stretch of filing our tax returns.
“The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax” Albert Einstein
Here are some tips to remember:
Filing channels and its deadlines
There are four channels of filing your tax return to SARS. These include :
- Requesting a return to be posted to you, completing your return manually and then submitting it at a SARS branch, by no later than 21 September 2018.
- If you are registered on the SARS e-filing system, you can submit your return in the comfort of your own home by no later than 31 October 2018. (This is by far the most efficient and hassle-free way of filing your return).
- If you do not have access to a computer, you may still file your return electronically at a SARS branch, where an agent will assist you. You need to ensure that you take along all your supporting documentation. The deadline for submission using this method is the 31 October 2018.
- For those that are always on the move – SARS launched the SARS e-filing App and MobiSite on 6 August 2018 enabling tax payers to file their returns from a smart phone. The deadline for submission using this method is 31 October 2018.
For provisional taxpayers (If you earn income other than a salary or an allowance, you must register as a provisional taxpayer), the deadline is the 31 January 2019.
Do not file if you don’t need to!
You do not need to submit a tax return if ALL of these apply to you:
- Your total salary for the 2018 year of assessment before tax is not more than R350,000;
- You have only one employer;
- You have no car or travel allowance, nor a company car nor any other income (e.g. interest or rental income); and
- You are not claiming tax related Deductions/rebates (e.g. medical expenses, travel and retirement annuity contributions) .
My tried-and-true tip: If you have your ID number and Tax reference number you can call the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277; press 3 (for a tax related enquiry) and then select 1 to find out whether you are required to submit an Income Tax Return (ITR12) the 2018 Tax Season.
Kick–ass with documentation
Having accurate and relevant supporting documentation at hand, when completing your return is like having the keys to Vin Diesel’s Dodge Charger. It will ensure that the engine is revved up quickly to facilitate victory in you filing your return with some speed. So grab a pen and paper or your tech-savvy equipment and check that you have the following minimum documentation on hand :
- IRP5 – Thes is the details your income from employment, various deductions and the PAYE tax already paid by your employer. Contact your HR department at your company to request an IRP5, if your employer has not yet provided you with a copy
- Dial down your piggy banks – Your salary is not the only taxable income SARS wants you to declare, it’s ALL your income in and outside of South Africa
- Medical Certificates – This is provided to you by your medical aid scheme and it lists the information of your contributions made for the year, the number of beneficiaries under the scheme and the total amount paid from the medical scheme. This information is important for you to qualify for your medical tax credits. Concerning medical expenses, paid out of your pocket despite belonging to a medical scheme, try to collate all the receipts of these payments and declare it on your return, as these are valid deductible expenses.
- Tax certificates that you received in respect of investment income (IT3(b)) – This is provided to you by your relevant investment company. Being aware of the various streams of your investment income is important, as there are different thresholds that limit the amount of tax you pay on investment income e.g. interest income.
- Pension and retirement annuity certificates – This can be requested from your service provider. It is important to be aware of transfers between funds, as it may attract different taxing rules
- Travel logbook (if you receive a travel allowance, of course) – If you receive a travel allowance from your employer, you will need to maintain a logbook. This should detail the date, number of kilometers traveled and the reason for each trip, as SARS will only allow a deduction for business purposes.
- Any other relevant documentation pertaining to income received or deductions you want to claim – Everyone will be looking for ways to optimize your return so get thinking!
My tried-and-true tip: You must keep all relevant documentation in your possession for at least five years in the event that SARS needs access to them in future, during an audit.
The forgotten password effect
Many of us procrastinate in completing the task at hand, because we do not remember login details. If you are registered on the SARS e-filing system, you can reset your username and/or password on the SARS log-in page. Alternatively, you can call the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277. Ensure that this is during SARS office hours – otherwise you will be required to lend your ear to classical music.)
My tried-and-true tip: When calling the SARS Contact Centre have your ID number and tax reference number at hand. Press option 0 at the prompt of the service menu and follow the easy prompts that follow.
Let’s not fall prey to a Rookie Error
Once you have completed your return on the e-filing system, ensure that you click the “submit return to SARS” button at the top of the screen. If this is not done your tax return will only be saved and not filed. Yes, trust me on this one- made this error before.
Discover and become Tax Savvy
Tax education workshops are presented on a regular basis at no cost to you (it’s a win win situation), at most SARS branches across the country. These workshops are conducted by the Branch Operations Engagement team and cover a wide range of topics. These include providing taxpayers with information that help create a basic understanding of the various tax types, how these taxes work and what is expected of taxpayers in order to be tax compliant at all times. Visit the SARS website for more information.
Now that you got the ball rolling and the finish line seems to be in sight, keep going until you submit your return. Explore alternative ways that work for you, that will make the process simpler going forward, as taxes are here to stay!
Be the ideal citizen and give back to your country, by paying your taxes and keeping your tax affairs in check.
Be Honest . Be Prepared . Be A-Filer
JJ – Guest Blogger and Tax Specialist