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South African Tax Season Opens On July 1

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) launches its 2016 tax filing season on July 1, although only those individual taxpayers whose total annual salary before tax was above ZAR350,000 (USD23.000) will need to complete a tax return.

To be exempt from the filing requirement, taxpayers with income below the threshold must have only received employment income from one employer for the full year of assessment; have no other form of income, such as car allowance, business income, taxable interest, or rent, or income from another job; and have no additional tax deductions to claim, such as medical expenses, retirement annuity contributions, or travel expenses.

The deadline for individual taxpayers who submit their tax returns manually or by post is September 23, 2016. The deadline for all non-provisional and provisional taxpayers who submit returns via eFiling is November 25, 2016, and January 31, 2017, respectively.

Provisional taxpayers, a small segment of the tax base, are those individuals with other forms of income, such as investment income, income from business activities, rent, royalties, or directors' income.

SARS reported that 5.94m returns were submitted to SARS last year, 11.52 percent higher than in 2014. This included individuals, trusts, and prior year submissions. Compliance for taxpayers filing on time exceeded 90 percent for the third consecutive year.

Taxpayers are encouraged to use SARS eFiling as the quickest and easiest way to submit a tax return. Last year, 99.96 percent of returns were filed electronically, either via eFiling (51.84 percent), or through electronically assisted filing at a SARS branch or mobile tax unit. Manual submissions were down to less than 2,000 returns.

In addition, SARS paid out 1.82m refunds to the value of ZAR15bn during the 2015 filing season – more than 95 percent of these refunds were paid within 72 hours.