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You must pay your tax despite Covid-19

The South African African Revenue Service (Sars) has announced changes to this year’s filing process for income taxpayers while insisting you must remain tax-compliant during this difficult time.

At a media briefing this week, Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said the government needs tax revenue to provide much-needed relief to businesses and individuals, and, in particular, to keep an army of health workers and other frontline workers employed.

Sars has also had to prepare its core administration systems to administer all the tax relief measures announced by the government.

“During this time, it remains extremely important for all taxpayers to remain compliant. This means registering when they are legally required to, submitting tax declarations, returns, and relevant submissions where required, and making the necessary payments when they become due, unless they have entered into a permissible payment arrangement with Sars,” Kieswetter said.

He said Sars was expecting a massive decrease in revenue for this tax year. “While it is early days, our initial view is that revenue performance will be lower than the February Budget announcement by between 15% and 20%. This means that revenue under-recovery could move up to R285 billion.”

He said taxpayers could use its enhanced e-filing system to check their compliance status, review their registration details and obtain a statement of account.

Kieswetter said Sars had made a number of key changes for this year’s filing season, which will be in three phases:

* Phase 1. Employer filing (April 15 to May 31). Employers need to ensure they are fully compliant in respect of their filing and payment obligations for PAYE on behalf of their employees. Third-party information from banks, medical schemes and financial services providers must also be submitted within this period.

* Phase 2. Tax file updates (June 1 to August 31). During this period taxpayers can engage with Sars to ensure their tax details are up to date. During this phase a significant number of taxpayers will receive auto-assessments and will be given an opportunity to confirm their acceptance of the assessment outcome by Sars. Individuals who are not required to file will be informed and those required to file during Phase 3 will be informed.

* Phase 3. Employee filing (September 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021). Individuals who are required to file will be reminded. Non-provisional taxpayers and those who have not accepted the outcome of an auto-assessment must file between September 1 and November 16, with those making use of branch facilities having until October 22. Provisional taxpayers who have not accepted the outcome of an auto-assessment can file when they are ready, but not later than January 31, 2021.

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