The 2017 Tax Season officially kicked off on July 1 for eFilers, while Sars branches opened their doors on July 3 to assist taxpayers with their submissions.
Amid dwindling economic growth and efforts by National Treasury to stick to its path of fiscal consolidation, Sars is under pressure to meet revenue targets. It collects about 90% of government revenue.
Below are some of the changes and things to look out for during filing season, which covers the tax year March 1 2016 to February 28 2017.
1. Additional disclosure required
This is arguably the most significant change that will affect individual taxpayers.
Johan Troskie, international tax lawyer and Master Tax Practitioner at JMT & Associates, says Sars increasingly requires more and more information.
A significant change during the current tax season relates to deductions for retirement annuity contributions.
“You are now required to provide individual policy numbers and the names of the insurers or the funds for each contribution made,” Troskie says.
Information related to medical aid deductions is being strictly applied and people are advised to check the information on their medical aid certificates carefully to avoid delays, he adds.
In communication from Sars, it stresses that medical aid contributions disclosed on an employee’s IRP5 or IT3(a) certificate will no longer automatically be deemed to be claimed by the taxpayer – the rebate for medical contributions and expenditure will solely be based on the information supplied in the relevant medical sections of the tax return.
The disclosure of medical contributions and medical expenses for an immediate family member who is dependent on the taxpayer for care and support, must also be disclosed separately, it adds.
Piet Nel, head of the School of Applied Tax at the South African Institute of Tax Professionals (Sait), says Sars requires much more detailed disclosure around distributions from a trust.
Trust income from more than one trust will have to be declared separately.
Moreover, individuals who ceased to be tax residents for South African tax purposes during the tax year are now required to provide details about when this transpired, as it will have triggered a capital gains tax obligation for South African tax residents, Troskie says.
2. Some taxpayers don’t have to file a return
If a taxpayer’s total annual salary before any deductions and tax is less than
R350 000, the individual only receives an income from one employer, has no other sources of income such as rent, taxable interest or a car allowance and doesn’t want to claim deductions for medical expenses, contributions to a retirement annuity or travel expenses the person probably doesn’t have to submit a tax return. The threshold is unchanged from last year.
3. Additional security measures introduced
Sars has implemented additional security measures at its branches for individuals who need to change any of their personal details. To ensure the information is authentic, taxpayers will have to show their ID, their fingerprints will be scanned, a picture will be taken and the information will be verified with the Department of Home Affairs.
4. Deadlines differ
Most taxpayers who submit their returns via eFiling or electronically at a Sars branch must do so by November 24 (non-provisional taxpayers).
All manual or postal submissions must be tendered by September 22.
Provisional taxpayers who submit returns via eFiling have until January 31 2018 to meet the deadline.
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