Should You e-file?
02 October 2012
Posted by: Author: Dirk Kotze
Should You E-File?
There are pros and cons…
Tax season has officially opened, and many taxpayers are reaching for their computers and filing their tax returns. That's how seemingly easy the process has become, thanks to e-filing. But don't be lulled into thinking that filing your return has become a no-brainer.
With e-filing there's no paper, no hassle, no fuss—all you need is a computer and an internet connection. And, according to their website, SARS is even going to introduce e-filing for smart phones and tablets in the future.
Since e-filing was introduced, SARS has been steadily improving the system. Not only is your tax return available online, but so are various guides and tools to help you complete your return. For 2012, there is even a YouTube clip that shows you how.
SARS keeps your full filing history online, and you can save an uncompleted tax return and complete it later, or correct tax returns already filed. Any queries SARS has are raised via the system, and you can upload supporting documents, make objections to assessments, and even pay amounts due via the site. There is no need to visit a SARS branch or speak to a SARS official in most cases.
However, remember that e-filing is merely a filing and correspondence tool to administer your tax affairs. The system won't give you advice on what amounts to include, what's subject to tax and what isn't, and what you can deduct.
You still have to be careful about what you disclose and how you calculate your tax. While the internet streamlines the process of filing your return, it also makes it much easier for SARS to get information about your financial affairs.
With the new Tax Administration Act in force, SARS is no paper tiger. It has real teeth and can levy additional taxes if you default, and start collection procedures against you. Taxpayers have to ensure that what they enter onto the e-filing system is correctly classified and treated—or face the consequences.
Because of this, tax practitioners are still in demand. Taxpayers know that their tax calculations can be complex and that SARS has adopted a zero-tolerance attitude. Many also don't' like dealing with SARS, and prefer a tax practitioner to perform the filing function and act as a buffer between them and SARS.
That being said, remember that using a tax practitioner to file your return doesn't absolve you from ultimate responsibility. So make sure that the information you give your practitioner is correct.
Source: By Dirk Kotze (Taxbreaks)