Time for taxpayers to start preparing for filing season
23 June 2016
Posted by: Author: Amanda Visser
Author: Amanda Visser (BDlive)
Individual taxpayers should ensure they have collected all the documentation necessary to file their annual tax returns.
Filing season begins on July 1 and allows individuals and trusts to file returns within specific timeframes to avoid late filing penalties.
Tax season runs from July to November every year. Provisional taxpayers (who have additional income such as interest or rental income) have until January the following year.
Last year, more than 323,000 tax returns were submitted within the first three days of the filing season. Less than four million tax returns are expected to be filed by individuals and trusts.
The number of returns decreased marginally last year following the increased monetary threshold for mandatory filing from R250,000 to R350,000.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) advises taxpayers to have the correct documents and proof for every claim they make to reduce their taxable income.
Chérie Carstens-Petersen, team leader of the technical tax division at the South African Institute of Tax Professionals, says SARS receives information from third parties like banks, medical aid funds and employers.
"It is best to be completely honest at all times because trying to hide income will only lead to heavy penalties for omission of income," she says.
The documents that are required to complete a return include IRP5s from current and previous employers, medical aid certificates from medical funds, certificates for lump sum payouts, detailed travel logbooks for those who receive travel allowances, investment certificates reflecting interest, dividends and capital gains earned, and schedules of income and expenses for those who earn business income.
Carstens-Petersen says taxpayers often fail to check information on their IRP5 forms.
"Employers can make mistakes. Incorrect source codes or amounts declared can cause nightmares for taxpayers once the assessment has been finalised."
SARS advises taxpayers to request their employers to rectify any errors on their IRP5 income tax certificates. "You will not be able to change these pre-populated fields on the return," SARS says in a statement on its website.
From this year, pre-populated IRP5s will be "locked", restricting taxpayers from making changes to the certificate submitted by their employers to SARS. This is another attempt to combat fraud.
Carstens-Petersen says taxpayers who request their employers to correct the IRP5 before the return is submitted are saving themselves "many tears of frustration".
She adds that another "common mistake" taxpayers make is not to include all their income on their tax returns. "Even if income is exempt, it should still be declared."
SARS has again warned taxpayers of incidents of "scam artists" pretending to be SARS representatives demanding so-called outstanding payments on undeclared taxes.
Taxpayers were also sent fraudulent e-mails claiming they are eligible for a refund, with the aim of getting personal information such as bank account details, which is then used to commit fraud.
According to SAIT, taxpayers should be extra vigilant during the filing season. "Every single interaction with SARS is linked to a case number that reflects on their internal systems."
She says if someone phones, e-mails or SMSs claiming to be from SARS, taxpayers should insist on a case number and verify it with the national call centre.
In SA taxpayers can receive hefty fines for not paying taxes.
In Malaysia, it was reported this week that 120,000 taxpayers have been barred from leaving the country following their failure to pay income tax totaling 2.55-billion Malaysian Ringgit at the end of May.
The Malaysian tax authority said in a statement travel restrictions can be imposed on those who have arrears in tax payments such as income tax.
This article first appeared on bdlive.co.za.