Tax 101

You hear on the news that Tax filing season opened on 1 July 2013 and you’re thinking: “Eish!!!” I don’t like that word: “Tax”! Well before you break out into a cold sweat, have sleepless nights, or both, let me share a few do’s and don’ts:

 

• Do ensure that you are a registered taxpayer. How do you do this? Easy…if you are an individual and are employed, chances are that you already have a tax number. Pretty cool huh!! Half the job is done. If you are running a business all you need to do is call SARS ( 0800 00 SARS/7277), give them some of your business’ details and hey presto, they will tell you over the phone.
• Do register on SARS E-Filing. Hit the register button on the SARS E-Filing website and fill out the registration form online. SARS e-filing has made it much easier to submit your tax returns, with 99.8% of South Africans submitting electronically. It’s a leap from putting your return in the drop box at the SARS building. But there are far more queries from SARS now than before, with the Revenue Service frequently requesting more information and documentation from taxpayers. Be prepared
• Do request the services of a registered tax practitioner. Especially if you are running a business. All practicing tax practitioners must be registered with a professional controlling body, so to ensure that you receive the best service make sure the person you hire is registered. A tax practitioner can assist with all the funny legal/ tax jargon that SARS throws at you and ensure that you are aware of all the relevant tax deadlines and compliance stuff.
• Do gather all your documents if you are an individual taxpayer. For example, an IRP5 from your employer, your medical contributions certificate and retirement annuity contributions certificate. Then log in to your profile on SARS E-Filing, request your return for 2013 and fill it in. SARS E-Filing, can “Help you E-File” once you have logged in so there is no need to stress. Your tax return may be selected for audit and could be scrutinized. In the past, around one out of ten returns were audited. Now it is far higher (up to 8 out of 10 tax returns).
• Do file your return before the due date. Due dates are available on the SARS E-Filing website. Filing your return on time means that you will not be hit with penalties for late submission and you won’t have to deal with the slow download speed on the E-Filing website closer to the deadline date. You may even be in line for a refund if you claim expenses, now isn’t that just fantastic! Who doesn’t need extra cash?
• Do keep all tax documents for a minimum of 5 years, this goes for both individuals and businesses.
• Don’t lie on your tax return. An incorrect submission and deliberate omission of information is punishable by law, so if you don’t fancy spending some quality time with guys in orange overalls and tattoos, I suggest being truthful.
• Don’t share your SARS E-Filing login and password with anyone. Not even your BFF.
• Don’t respond to emails that appear to be from SARS and that promise you fantastic refunds. There are many scams out there. You’ve been warned!

You can download the latest Tax guide from Moore Stephens.

So there you have it, now that you are informed, be reformed and go submit your tax return!

OlivierBarbeauThis article was written by Olivier Barbeau. Olivier, a chartered accountant, is Office Managing Partner and Member of the Executive Committee of Moore Stephens South Africa. Moore Stephens South Africa, which has been in operation since 2003, is part of the Moore Stephens International Network, a major accounting and consulting network with 299 independent firms, and 624 offices in 101 countries. The company strives to provide sensible advice and tailored solutions, assisting with the financial, advisory and compliance needs of their clients, and ultimately helping them to reach their commercial and personal goals.

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