Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Tax season starts on 7 July: Here’s what you need to know

The time of the year to pay your dues to the taxman is arriving soon.

Tax season for South Africans starts on 7 July and according to the South African Revenue Service (Sars) – taxpayers can look forward to a streamlined process with enabling technology and better service.

Sars says provisional and non-provisional taxpayers, as well as trusts, can start filing their income tax returns on Friday, 7 July 2023, after 8pm when tax season starts.

“The submission of accurate personal income tax returns on time is important for a seamless filing season. This year, taxpayers must take control of their own tax affairs to ensure they are aware of their obligations and remain compliant,” Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter says.

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“Sars continues to provide enabling technology, the expanded use of data enhanced by machine learning, algorithms and artificial intelligence. We also continue to make progress in various aspects of online and in-person taxpayer services through an investment in our people.

“These enabling and service improvements are intended to ensure that there is no need for walk-in tax consultations and long queues at Sars offices during tax season.”

Auto assessments

Taxpayers can do an auto-assessment if Sars communicates directly with them by SMS from Friday, 30 June 2023, to tell them they were selected to do an auto-assessment.

These taxpayers can access the auto-assessment through any of Sars’s channels, such as the Sars MobiApp or Sars eFiling, to review and verify the completeness and accuracy of the information that resulted in the auto-assessment.

Taxpayers who selected for auto-assessment can choose to accept the assessment outcome without edits, or if there is justification, choose to edit their declaration and resubmit it along with the necessary supporting documents.

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Those who accept the assessment outcome without any edits and who qualify for a refund, will receive it directly into their bank account within 72 hours after the notification. Taxpayers who are satisfied with the auto-assessment do not have to do anything further and the process terminates at this point.

Taxpayers who submit an edited declaration will be assessed on the basis of their resubmission. If you owe Sars money, you must pay it into Sars’ bank account or use eFiling or the MobiApp to pay by the stipulated date.

Kieswetter urges taxpayers who are selected for an auto-assessment to exercise patience and not visit any Sars branches or call the contact centre to enquire about the progress. He says Sars will pro-actively communicate with these taxpayers.

Declarations in tax season

All taxpayers who submit an edited declaration, or file a declaration in the normal way, can submit it along with any supporting or additional information through the Sars eFiling platform.

Sars will process the return and issue a revised assessment for taxpayers from the auto assessment group, which may result in a different financial obligation, such as a reduced refund, increased refund or payment due to Sars. All other taxpayers will receive an assessment.

Taxpayers who experience any difficulty with filing their returns through eFiling or the Mobi-App must first book an appointment to visit a branch.


  • Objections and appeals: If you do not agree with the revised assessment, you can initiate an objection through the normal Sars objections process.
  • Non-provisional taxpayers: non-provisional taxpayers who did not get an auto-assessment and who are required to file a return can do so from 7 July 2023 after 8pm until 23 October 2023.
  • Provisional taxpayers as well as trust submissions start with filing a return from 7 July 2023 after 8pm until 23 January 2024.
  • Taxpayers who are not selected for auto-assessment are urged to wait for the email and SMS and not to visit Sars branches during the first week before 7 July 2023.

Kieswetter says if all the information contained in a return is for the current year and accurate, the transaction will take no more than 10 seconds.

ALSO READ: Taxing times: New SARS rules for resolving tax disputes

Kieswetter warns taxpayers not to inflate their expenses and under-declare their income to obtain impermissible refunds, as this will make the taxpayer potentially guilty of fraud.

“Sars will make it hard and costly for taxpayers who intentionally attempt to claim impermissible expenses or understate their income, by imposing harsh penalties. In addition, there will be administrative non-compliance penalties for those taxpayers who do not adhere to the deadlines of this year’s filing season.”

Sars will from this year allow taxpayers who did not agree with the auto-assessment outcome to file an amended return until the normal filing season deadline on 23 October 2023, a change from the 40 days allowed last year.

Read more on these topics

South African Revenue Service (SARS) tax

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