Pool of Compliant Tax Payers in SA is Growing, says SARS

Author: Amanda Visser (BusinessDay)

Almost 92% of taxpayers who are obliged to submit a tax return this year made Friday’s deadline, which represents an increase of 5.5% from the previous year.

South African Revenue Service (SARS) spokesman Adrian Lackay said more than 6-million returns were submitted by the deadline for nonprovisional taxpayers on Friday. These included 1.55-million outstanding tax returns from previous years. Overall, 13% more returns were submitted this year by the deadline than in 2012.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in a statement released on Monday that the growth in the number of tax returns filed, despite an increase in the threshold for submitting a return from R120,000 to R250,000, showed continued growth in tax compliance by South Africans.

“The ability to collect tax revenue from individual and corporate citizens to finance the provision of public services and the provision of socioeconomic infrastructure has been one of the cornerstones of our democracy these past 20 years,” he said.

SARS had paid refunds of more than R14bn since the start of the annual tax season on July 1. It paid almost 95% of these within three days. Taxpayers had already paid R4.7bn, or R1bn more than in 2012, towards the fiscus.

Taxpayers who submitted their late returns paid a total of R674m in penalties. “This is a very encouraging indicator that the administrative penalties imposed by SARS for outstanding returns are having the desired effect on improving compliance levels,” Mr Lackay said.

SARS will continue to impose penalties on taxpayers who do not submit their returns on time.

In this filing season, SARS assisted taxpayers to submit 2.7-million returns at branch offices. Etienne Retief, chairman of the tax committee of the South African Institute of Professional Accountants, earlier expressed concern that if a mistake was made when filling in a tax form with the help of a SARS official, the taxpayer remained responsible for any errors.

Mr Lackay said these submissions were done electronically in the presence of the taxpayer, which should negate the risk of incorrect information being submitted on the return.The use of electronic submissions has affected turnaround times significantly, with 94.8% of returns filed being assessed within three seconds.

This article was first published on bdlive.co.za

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