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News & Press: SARS News & Tax Administration

Online help for eFilers

Wednesday, 19 September 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: SAIT Technical
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By Laura du Preez (Business Report)

Taxpayers who need help when eFiling their tax return can now ask a South African Revenue Service (SARS) consultant to shadow them online while they fill in their return.

To use the Help-You-eFile service, you telephone the SARS call centre while connected to the internet and then share the internet browser in which you have accessed your tax return with a SARS consultant.

The service is a response to the increase in the number of taxpayers who are filing returns electronically at SARS branches because they are not confident enough to eFile their returns by themselves.

SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay says to date SARS has received 2.571 million income tax returns, which is 33 percent higher than during the same period last year. About 1.21 million returns – 40 300 a day – have been submitted via SARS branches. As a result, the queues at branches have been much longer than in previous years, and queueing times have been averaging at between 60 and 90 minutes, SARS says. Once you are with a consultant, it takes only 10 to 12 minutes to capture your return, Lackay says.

Now you can avoid the queues and get access to a consultant telephonically and online. A call centre consultant can be reached in 25 seconds or less, SARS says.

The consultant can talk you through any problems you are experiencing with completing your return and indicate on the return displayed in your browser which fields you must complete.

The consultant will not be able to change or control what you are doing. The consultant can only talk to you and direct you as he or she sees what you are doing online during the session. The consultant will not be able to access your computer desktop and files, because he or she can view only the eFiling session.

Sensitive information fields, such as those where your bank account number or password appear, will be displayed to the consultant as zeros or asterisks.

A consultant can help you with questions of a technical nature and those related to tax law and what you need to declare for tax purposes.

In addition to tax returns, a consultant will be able to help you with your statement of account, and notice of assessment, as well as using the tax calculator, making payments, resetting a password, submitting supporting documents and requesting a correction to a return.

The Help-You-eFile service will be available until Friday, November 23, from 8am to 7pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; from 9am to 7pm on Wednesdays; and from 9am to 2pm on Saturdays.

Since the introduction of Help-You-eFile on September 3, 2 506 callers have been assisted.

SARS still plans later this tax season to launch an app for smartphones and tablets and a mobisite for cellphones, both of which you will be able to use to file your return.

  • A video tutorial on how to use Help-You-eFile is available on the SARS YouTube channel at


  • Log on to your eFiling profile.
  • Open your income tax return in Adobe Flash Player and not as a pdf. You select the program in which your return opens from the Income Tax Work Page. If you do not have Adobe Flash Player, you can download it from this page.
  • Click on the Help-You-eFile logo and accept the terms and conditions. A unique session identity number should then appear on the menu bar of your browser.
  • Phone the South African Revenue Service (SARS) call centre on 0800 00 SARS (7277).
  • The SARS consultant will enter the unique identity number on the SARS system and a pop-up message will be displayed in your browser with your consultant's name.
  • Confirm whether or not you want that SARS consultant to assist you. If you confirm that you want the consultant to help you, he or she will not be able to see sensitive information, such as your password, answers to security questions and your banking details.
  • Once you no longer require the SARS consultant's assistance, click on "Disconnect agent” to end the Help-You-eFile session.


  • Friday, September 28, 2012: The deadline for paper income tax returns submitted by post or at a branch of the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
  • Friday, November 23, 2012: For returns submitted via eFiling or electronically at a SARS branch.
  • Thursday, January 31, 2013: For provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via eFiling.



Section 240A of the Tax Administration Act, 2011 (as amended) requires that all tax practitioners register with a recognized controlling body before 1 July 2013. It is a criminal offense to not register with both a recognized controlling body and SARS.

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