Punitive Regime Seen to Spur Taxpayers to File on Time
02 July 2013
Posted by: Author: Amanda Visser
Author: Amanda Visser (Businessday, bdlive.co.za)
Thousands of anxious taxpayers have started filing their tax returns within hours of the official kick-off of the 2013 tax season on Monday morning.
The tax season serves as an important indicator of the level of compliance of South African taxpayers. The punitive penalty regime introduced a few years ago is the main driver behind the growing number of tax returns being filed on time — and those outstanding being filed sooner rather than later.
South African Revenue Service (SARS) spokesman Adrian Lackay said the agency received 5.66-million tax returns on time last year, a 16% rise on the previous year. Nearly 1.4-million outstanding returns were filed during the 2012 tax season, a 25% increase on the previous year.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and senior SARS officials on Monday engaged taxpayers in several centres across South Africa in an effort to raise awareness of the tax season.
Mr Lackay said more than 11,200 people had already filed their returns electronically by the start of business yesterday.
Taxpayers who submit returns manually have until September 27. Taxpayers who earn an income from one or more employer have until November 22 and those who have other forms or additional income such as investment, rental or royalty income have until January 31 next year.
Taxpayers whose gross income was less than R250,000 will no longer need to file a tax return, depending on whether they only earned one salary from one employer, have no additional forms of income and no claims for medical, retirement annuity contributions or travel expenses.
New provisions in the Tax Administration Act require tax practitioners to belong to a controlling body. The deadline for registration with such a professional body expired on Sunday.
Sharon Smulders, head of tax policy and research at the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners, said practitioners who were still not registered with a professional body would not be allowed to practice, and would be unable to file returns on behalf of clients until they were registered.
SARS announced in May that practitioners who were not members of a professional body would be able to register with accredited institutions such as the Institute of Accounting and Commerce, the South African Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, the South African Institute of Professional Accountants and the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners.
Dirk Kotze, a tax partner at global audit, tax and advisory firm Mazars, said delinquent practitioners will continue to practice and may pose serious risks to taxpayers. He said clients should request proof of an updated registration with a controlling body and that the information had been provided to SARS.