Are you ready for the 2023 tax-filing season? 5 key factors to watch out for
10 Jul, 2023

Meagan Fraser, tax specialist at Allan Gray


The official opening of South African tax season on Friday, July 7, 2023, presents an opportune time to get your affairs in order. During this tax season, The South African Revenue Service (SARS)  is making use of the auto-assessment process once again, leveraging information from third-party data providers to supply taxpayers with accurate returns.


Understanding filing obligations is crucial to ensure compliance. This is the view of Meagan Fraser, a tax specialist at Allan Gray, who emphasises the importance of understanding filing obligations to ensure compliance and a smooth tax-filing experience. SARS is committed to providing a seamless service that removes complexities for taxpayers.


Below, Fraser provides some practical steps for taxpayers to follow, as we head into the tax-filing season:


1. Preparing for the 2023 Tax-Filing Season


Taxpayers should collect all relevant tax certificates for the 2023 tax year before filing their returns. This includes requesting the IRP5/IT3(a) from their employers and gathering tax certificates from banks, medical aid schemes, retirement annuity funds, investment managers, and other relevant service providers. This step is crucial regardless of whether taxpayers have been selected for SARS auto-assessment.


2. Understanding the Auto-Assessment Process: What to Expect


SARS has identified a group of individual taxpayers for whom accurate tax calculations can be made based on data provided by third-party providers. Taxpayers would have received notifications through their preferred communication method (email or SMS) starting July 1, 2023, indicating the issuance of an auto-assessment. Taxpayers can review the assessment on eFiling or the SARS MobiApp to ensure its accuracy.


3. Updates to the Auto-Assessment Process: What You Need to Know


Unlike the previous year, taxpayers now have until October 23, 2023, to review and file a return if they disagree with SARS’s auto-assessment. The due date has been aligned with the end of the tax-filing season to provide ample time for assessment review. If SARS issues an auto-assessment after this date, taxpayers will have 40 business days from the notification date to file a return.


4. Actions for Auto-Assessed Taxpayers


Auto-assessed taxpayers should log in to eFiling or the SARS MobiApp to review their assessments. They can verify the data used for the assessment and compare it with the tax certificates received from employers and service providers. If no amendments are required, taxpayers do not need to take further action, as SARS will finalise their returns once the due date is reached. It is crucial to check for any refunds or outstanding amounts owed to SARS. Timely payment should be made before the due date indicated on the Notice of Assessment (ITA34) to avoid interest or penalties.


5. Steps to Take If You Have a Disagreement with Your Auto-Assessment


If you disagree with the auto-assessment, access your return on eFiling or the SARS MobiApp to correct and submit it by October 23, 2023. You cannot edit prepopulated third-party data, but you can add missing information. If any prepopulated data is incorrect or incomplete, contact the relevant third party to rectify it. After confirming the corrected data submission, refresh your tax return and submit it. Corrected data may require multiple refreshes to become visible. It’s crucial to accurately declare additional income and deductions, such as capital gains, rental income, and uncovered medical expenses. Failing to report all income can lead to penalties from SARS.


“Not all South Africans are required to file a tax return. If your taxable income exceeds the tax threshold for the 2023 tax year, you need to file a return. However, exemptions exist for those who have been auto-assessed or have specific types of income. Certain circumstances, such as conducting a business, selling assets, owning foreign currency, earning a foreign salary, or receiving a request from SARS, may also require you to file a return. Non-South African tax residents generally don’t need to file unless they received South African interest or engaged in specific activities. Use the SARS website questionnaire to clarify your filing obligations,” Fraser concludes.






@Meagan Fraser
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