As the tax season officially got off the ground on Wednesday, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) had already received more than 17 000 tax returns via branches and mobile units across the country by 8am.
More than 29 400 tax returns were filed via eFilling.
The tax season runs from July to November every year, however, provisional taxpayers who submit via the electronic filing system have until January next year.
Individual taxpayers, who submit their returns manually or by post, must do so by 30 September this year, non-provisional taxpayers who submit at a Sars branch have until 27 November.
This is also the deadline for taxpayers who do not pay provisional tax. Provisional taxpayers have until 29 January.
Ordinary tax payers arrived early in the morning to file their tax returns at the Sars branch in Pretoria.
Reason Masiyiwa said he was surprised by the fast pace at which service was delivered. “Normally, I would spend about three to four hours standing in the queue, but today it took about 30 minutes for me to be assisted,” said Masiyiwa.
He was happy to see that Sars, as a government entity, is improving their services. “They have improved a lot.”
Magdalene Dlamini described Sars’ service as “lovely” and said the consultants did not waste any time in getting her tax return processed. “There were no delays, and they got straight to the point, also, their uniform today made it easier for us to know who is who.
“I did not spend more than 20 minutes inside,” explained Dlamini, adding that it was great because she did not have much time to be in a queue at the branch.
William Mogorishi rated the Sars consultants very high, giving them 10 out of 10.
Speaking to the media after inspecting and engaging with taxpayers and branch staff on the first day of the tax filing season, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane were happy that South Africans had heeded the call to submit their returns early.
“They are the example. You do not have to wait until the last day. It is better to file on the first day as it has its advantages like no stampedes or system crashing,” said Minister Nene, who hoped many South Africans would be encouraged to do the same.
The Minister said it was encouraging that most people preferred to come to the Sars branches and mobile units even though they could have accessed the services electronically.
“That also says the personal contact with taxpayers is an important element in our work,” said Minister Nene.
He was encouraged by the enthusiasm and the spirit demonstrated by the staff who had been up since the early hours of the morning.
Paying tax, a Sars official said, was patriotic because the tax turned into domestic investments and money to build schools, clinics and help elderly people through services such as social grants.
To make the filing process easier, Monyane said over 14 000 Sars officials will be deployed at various strategic points throughout the country. About 21 temporary service points have been be set up to help people submit their returns.
Sars has also invested in new technology to make the system easier, said Monyane.
“The technology which we invested in is really paying off as it has made life much easier for our people.”
Sars will also be investing in biometric analysis system in future in order to verify people’s documentation in order to eliminate the risk of identify theft.
People whose income is less than R350 000 do not have to file a return, unless they have more than one employer, have a rental income or receive a car allowance. The last seasons’ threshold was R250 000.
National Treasury has set a collection target of R1.1 trillion for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Although taxpayers are keen to file early to get a refund from Sars, they have been advised that they need to have all the required supporting documentation before filing, and confirm whether they are legally required to file.
The most common required documentation a taxpayer needs to file includes:
- IRP5 issued by employer
- Proof of medical expenses, such as medical aid and other invoices if applicable
- Interest received certificate, such as IT3(b) if applicable
- Travel logbook, if undertaking business travel on behalf of employer. – SAnews.gov.za