Paying income tax
When the tax season opens, thousands of people queue outside the South African Revenue Services (SARS) offices to submit their returns. This year SARS is doing things differently to help save you time and keep you safe.
Personal income tax is the money you pay to government from your salary or wages. This money is used to help pay for roads, schools, hospitals and other government services. The South African Revenue Services (SARS) manages the collection of taxes and ensures that all working citizens contribute fairly. The 2020 tax season kicked-off on 1 September 2020.
What happens during tax season?
This year things have been done a little bit differently. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, SARS has gone out of their way to enhance its efforts to further simplify the tax return filing requirements for individual taxpayers and removing the need to travel to their branches.
Since August, SARS has been calling taxpayers to assist them with their tax returns. Through the use of third-party data, SARS has been able to complete tax returns and where they have the required information they've provided you with a proposed assessment without the need to file a tax return. This enables you to view, accept or edit your proposed assessment from the comfort of your home or place of work using eFiling or SARS MobiApp.
If you don't get an auto-assessment, the individual income tax return filing dates are:
Here’s what you need to know before you get started on your tax return.
The amount of personal income tax that you pay depends on:
To ensure a smooth filing experience, make sure you've got all the supporting documents ready which may include the following:
Proof of income including:
Proof of deductions such as:
Read more about the complete list of supporting documents you may need.
Auto Assemesment - SARS does the filing for you
Since August, SARS has been assessing a significant number of taxpayers automatically. If you accept the outcome, you don't have to complete a return because they would've done that for you.
If you were auto-assessed, you would've been notified per SMS in August – so there'll be no need for you to call them or visit a branch. The SMS will direct you to eFiling or the SARS MobiApp to either “Accept” or “Edit” the return.
Some taxpayers may have received communication before 1 August 2020 indicating why they won't be auto-assessed or alerting them to their 2019 return submission findings. This will help them to submit outstanding returns. Please adhere to the communication and submit any outstanding returns as soon as possible, to avoid delays in filing your 2020 return, and to ensure a seamless experience this year.
If you're not registered for eFiling or you'd like to download the SARS MobiApp, watch helpful tutorial videos on the SARS YouTube channel.
Click here to watch the ‘How to register for eFiling’ video, or here to watch the ’How to register on the SARS MobiApp’ video. Click here to watch the 'How to accept your auto-assessment on SARS eFiling' video
If you accept the results of your auto-assessment and if there's a refund due to you, the refund will be paid by SARS.
If you owe SARS money, you can make a payment on eFiling, via EFT or the SARS MobiApp by the specified due date on your Notice of Assessment.
Who qualifies to pay personal income tax?
People who pay income tax are generally individuals who earn an income from a salary, commission, fees, etc.
If you earn less than R350 000 for a full year from one employer (that’s your total salary income before tax) and have no other sources of additional income (for example, interest or rental income) and no deductions that you want to claim (for example medical expenses, travel or retirement annuities), then you don’t need to submit a return.
If you're still unsure whether you need to submit a return then answer these simple questions.
Corporate tax includes tax paid by companies or close corporations, as well as trusts, on their annual income.
Most of the state's income is derived from Income Tax (personal and corporate tax), although nearly a third of total revenue from national government taxes comes from indirect taxes, primarily Value-Added Tax (VAT).
PAYE, or Employees tax, is the tax that employers must deduct from the employment income of employees – such as salaries, wages and bonuses and pay over to SARS monthly. It's withheld daily, weekly, or monthly when these amounts are paid or become payable to the employees.
It ensures that an employee's income tax liability (amount of tax owed) is settled on an ongoing basis, while the income is being earned. The advantage of this is that the tax liability for the year is settled over the whole year of assessment.
The amount of PAYE you pay depends on how much you earn and is calculated using tax tables issued by SARS.
What is eFiling?
eFiling is an online tax return and submission service. You can register for eFiling if you’re already registered as a taxpayer.
You’ll receive detailed instructions on how to complete the tax return with the forms. When you submit your return, SARS will check that you’ve paid the correct amount of tax.
SARS helps you eFile
What is Help-You-eFile?
Help-You-eFile on the SARS eFiling website allows you, the taxpayer, to ask a SARS agent to help you complete your return if you're struggling. This is done telephonically while you're logged onto eFiling. The agent will be able to help you remotely throughout the return submission process. Click here for more information.
SARS has a mobile app that allows you to:
Find out more about the SARS mobile app and how it can simplify your tax returns this year.
Don't fall for scams
Don't be fooled by emails asking for your personal information. SARS will never:
Not paying tax that you owe to SARS has severe legal implications. You can be fined or imprisoned if you’re found guilty of:
For more information:
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