Tag: SARS

Who pays taxes in South Africa?

National Treasury and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) have published the annual Tax Statistics for 2020.

The 2020 edition provides an overview of tax revenue collections and tax return information for the 2016 to 2019 tax years, as well as the 2015/16 to 2019/2020 fiscal years.

The highlights of the statistics include:

  • Tax revenue collected amounted to R1 355.8 billion, growing year-on-year by R68.1 billion (5.3%), mainly supported by Personal Income Tax (PIT) which grew by R35.3 billion (7.2%).
  • 1,776,301 (40.9%) of assessed taxpayers were registered in Gauteng;
  • 580,464 of assessed taxpayers lived in the Johannesburg Metro and were taxed on an average taxable income of R512,785;
  • 1,171,410 (27.0%) of assessed taxpayers were aged between 35 to 44 years;
  • 2,352,902 (54.2%) of assessed taxpayers were male and 1,985,021 (45.8%) were female;
  • The assessed taxpayers had aggregate taxable income of R1.6 trillion and a tax liability of R360 billion. Their average tax rate was 22.5% compared to 21.6% in the previous tax year;
  • Income from salaries, wages and other remuneration, as well as pension, overtime and annuities, accounted for 77.6% of total taxable income;
  • Out of the 780,480 companies assessed as at the end of July 2020 for tax year 2018, 25.2% had positive taxable income;
  • 46.6% had taxable income equal to zero and the remaining 28.2% reported an assessed loss.

 

Negligent taxpayers could face jail-time in SA

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

With Government’s draft response being released in the Parliamentary Debate on 13 October 2020, non-compliant taxpayers, be it intentionally or negligently, may soon be facing some serious jail-time.

The draft response proposes a strict, no nonsense approach from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) when it comes to the taxpayer’s compliance, shifting the burden of proof to fall more heavily on the taxpayer than ever before.

SARS-Treasury team-up

Under the current tax regime, a key element of any offence is that it is committed “willfully and without just cause” by the taxpayer, with negligence resulting in a mere wrap on the knuckles in most instances.

The July 2020 Draft TALAB (Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill) proposes to change this entirely, by the removal of the term “willfully” from the legislation, taking away one more line of defense to taxpayers across the country. This proposed amendment was met with fierce resistance by tax practitioners and taxpayers alike, opposing the opening of this particular can of worms.

In last week’s proceedings, National Treasury and SARS took the opportunity to shoot their shot, proposing this amendment to the Standing Committee on Finance.

Although some leniencies were permitted, the two authorities held their ground on the need for a change in law, more specifically the standards used to measure taxpayers’ behaviour, to enable easier convictions for tax related offences.

Enabling legislative amendments

Although the proposed amendments will have no impact on the existing sanctions for non-compliance, they will widen the net for SARS to catch taxpayers off-guard, and impose these sanctions, for what could be something as simple as a typographical error when completing a return, or any of the other 100 mistakes which may be committed due to human error, which may be viewed as negligent on the part of the taxpayer.

It must be noted that “intent” was not entirely done away with, but rather drawn in to permit more severe sanctions in this instance as these acts are borderline tax evasion, where the “intent” is to defraud SARS.

Strategically speaking, this is a bold yet brilliant move from the SARS-Treasury team, as the inclusion of “negligence”, and retaining of “intent” allows the non-compliance net to be cast wide enough to catch even the smallest fish.

The split

The existing offences are proposed to be split into two categories, being that which requires “intent”, where the heavier burden of proof falls on SARS, and that which either “intent” or “negligence” will suffice, shifting the weight of the burden more on to the taxpayer than ever before.

The existing sanctions, including some serious jail-time and/or a financial fatality in the form of a fine, will remain unchanged, with the case-appropriate sanction being left to the discretion of either SARS (for minor offences) or the National Prosecuting Authority (“NPA”) (in the instance of more severe offences).

First-mover advantage

In order to protect yourself from SARS, it remains the best strategy that you always ensure compliance. Where you find yourself on the wrong side of SARS, there is a first mover advantage in seeking the appropriate tax advisory, ensuring the necessary steps are taken to protect both yourself and your bank balance from paying the price for what could be the smallest of mistakes.

However, where things do go wrong, SARS must be engaged legally, and we generally find them utmost agreeable where a correct tax strategy is followed.

As a rule of thumb, any and all correspondence received from SARS should be immediately addressed, by a qualified tax specialist or tax attorney, which will not only serve to safeguard the taxpayer against SARS implementing collection measures, but also being specialists in their own right, the taxpayer will be correctly advised on the most appropriate solution to ensure their tax compliance.

 

Source: MyBroadband, ESET

It’s time to file that tax return at SARS! Whilst many of us cannot wait for our refunds, this is also a time of the year where cybercriminals are waiting to attack. Sadly, with the tax season comes tax scams with cybercriminals seeking to steal your tax refund.

Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET South Africa explained: “Whilst we like to think we have become wiser to email spams and scams, cybercriminals are often in the perfect position to “fine tune” their attacks. If one attack doesn’t work, they simply adapt and improve, and then spam it out again.”

ESET offers the following tips to stay safe during the tax return season:

1. Are you worried you’re being phished? Look at the bait
Always look at who the email is from. It’s possible to fake any email address, but not all phishers are this clever – they may use a random email address that gives the game away. “Check the link that you’re supposed to click by hovering your mouse over it to display a pop-up message with the real link in it. Look closely. Does the address make sense? If any alarm bells start to ring, don’t click,” said van Vlaanderen.

2. Tax returns, invoices, wedding invitations – cybercriminals use them all
To a cybercriminal, nothing is sacred – wedding invitations, invoices and tax returns are all commonly used tactics. Always think hard before opening any attachment – even ones that seem to come from friends. It’s unlikely that SARS are asking you to refile your tax returns so please do not click.

3. Be extra careful around short URLs
If there isn’t a cap on the number of letters, why has someone shortened the link? You cannot take it for granted that URL shortening services are redirecting you to trustworthy websites.

4. Telephone numbers are not a guarantee an email is real
Do not trust professional looking emails where there is a phone contact number – this is often another cybercriminal trick. The number may work, but you will be connected to a scammer who will attempt to fool you into handing over further details.

5. Don’t auto-load images
Leave your email messages so your images aren’t automatically downloaded – otherwise you could be sending a signal to spammers. Images are often stored on the spammer’s servers and can be unique to your email. By turning on pictures in an email your computer downloads the images from the spammer’s servers, showing that you exist.

6. Is SARS really calling?
“It’s doubtful SARS will be calling you and they definitely are not going to offer any sort of gift card for filing early. If you get weird emails or phone calls, ignore them, or hang up. Always follow your gut.”

7. Encryption is the only way to go
If you file online look for encrypted websites. Make sure the website your visiting has HTTPS in front of the URL. Typically, it will have a green or grey lock showing it’s a secure connection. The last thing you want to do is share your extremely private information associated with taxes unless you’re on an encrypted website.

8. Did someone beat you to filing your tax return?
Identity theft is growing. In the USA alone, almost 60 million people have been affected – that is more than 1 in every 6 Americans. Cybercriminals will use any opportunity to monetise the effort they have taken to steal an identity, and at this time of year it’s probably tax identity theft for the purposes of tax refund fraud.

The cybercriminal’s target is not only the individual but also the tax professionals who prepare and file taxes for many clients potentially providing a single place for a cybercriminal to gain all the necessary data to file returns for many individuals.

It’s important that good data security practices and technology are in place for both individuals and tax professionals and are reviewed for effectiveness on a frequent basis.

“The next time a person or website requests personal data, ask some questions – do they really need it, how long will they store it, will it be protected, do I trust them to secure it?” said Van Vlaanderen. “The collection of personal data is, for some, a business that provides great rewards – as consumers we need to engage in the protection of our identity by being less willing to hand over our data to just about anyone who requests it.”

In a nutshell, to protect yourself, use up-to-date security software as offered by ESET, strong and unique passwords or passphrases, and encryption; and avoiding phishing scams by checking links and following your gut.

Reporting scams to the relevant authorities allows them to ascertain the scale of the issue and potentially track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

To find out more about ESET online security offerings, pleas click here. For more information on ESET, please visit their website, or follow them on Instagram and Facebook for updates and news.

SA to miss tax target by over R300bn

By Lameez Omarjee for Fin24

SA will miss its original tax revenue target by over R300-billion this year, said Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.

During the tabling of the special adjustment budget on Wednesday, the minister explained that the country is already behind its 2020/21 tax revenue target by R35.3 billion. As a result, government has revised down the tax revenue target from R1.43 trillion to R1.12 trillion.

National Treasury recorded a R63.3 billion revenue shortfall in the 2019/20 tax year.

“We expect to miss our tax target for this year by over R300 billion,” Mboweni said.

While Mboweni did not announce any tax hikes to make up the shortfall, he said that tax measures of R40 billion would be needed over the next four years. Tax proposals will be announced in the 2021 budget.

Furthermore Treasury will work to find spending adjustments of R230 billion over the next two years.

He also touted the idea of zero-based budgeting. “This means that we will try to reduce all expenditure that we thought we can no longer afford. After all, we are not as rich as we were ten years ago,” Mboweni said.

Analysts had expected the budget to reveal a significant shortfall as a result of the lockdown which restricted economic activity and by extension tax revenue collections.

To cushion the blows of the lockdown on consumers and businesses, government implemented a R500 billion stimulus package, which included R70 billion in tax relief measures. These entailed deferrals on some tax payments such as excise duties, carbon tax and employee taxes. Government also opted to postpone tax proposals for corporate tax hikes and SARS was directed to fast track VAT refunds. Donations to the Solidarity Fund, set up to support the vulnerable in society, were also declared tax deductible.

A ban on cigarette and alcohol sales also had negative implications for excise duty collections. Back in April SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said these restrictions saw a loss of R1.5 billion in excise duties. The minister has also been outspoken about his opposition to the ban on these items.

Bernard Sacks, tax partner at Mazars, noted that certain sectors of the economy had still not been able to restart operations, while some others are operating to a limited extent.

“The difficulties faced by Minister Mboweni are now immeasurably greater. Ways must be found to fund the steep rise in healthcare spending… Social grant spending will show steep increases as the unemployment rate soars even higher,” Sacks said.

By Jasmine Stone for 2oceansvibe

The South African Revenue Services (SARS) will start issuing auto-assessments from 1 August.

On May 5, SARS announced new tax filing seasons and a much more heavy-handed approach to companies who are not submitting their EMP501s and IRP5s timeously.

There will be a renewed focus to ensure that all employers are fully compliant in terms of their filing and payment obligations. In order to achieve higher compliance, SARS will interface with the National Population Register, the Companies Registrar, and the Deeds Office.

SARS has put in place a three-phased approach:

  • Phase 1 – April 15 to May 31 2020 – Employer and third-party filing
  • Phase 2 –June 1 to August 31 2020 – Taxpayers to update their files (Bank Acc, addresses etc) / SARS follow up with non-compliant Employers/Third-party data providers / Auto Assessment of certain taxpayers and possible early filing for some taxpayers
  • Phase 3 – September 1 to January 31 2021 – Tax filing for the remainder

Due dates for the submission of IRP5s and all third-party data (Bank interest certificates, Pension certificates, Medical certificates) is May 31, 2020. SARS has said that third-party data providers who remain wilfully non-compliant will be criminally charged during the period of June 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020.

In the two days prior to lockdown, SARS sent a number of notices warning employers who had filed their previous IRP5’s late, of criminal prosecution.

During the period up to August 31, SARS will auto-assess taxpayers who only have one IRP5. The taxpayers will have an opportunity to accept this auto-assessment, and if not accepted, will be required to submit their returns later.

It seems that SARS will allow certain taxpayers to file their returns before September 1, but only if their employers and third-party data providers are tax compliant. The wording used by SARS is, “individual taxpayers who are required to file but have not been auto-assessed may file early via on-line facilities if their employers & other third-party data providers are fully compliant (which includes no PAYE debt without a proper and secure deferment arrangement)”.

For all other taxpayers, SARS has delayed tax season to only open on September 1, whereas in previous years, it opened on the July 1. SARS will notify taxpayers to whom phase three filing applies.

It seems as though SARS strategy is to allow employees of tax-compliant companies to file early whilst employees of non-tax compliant employers will be required to wait until September 1 before they can file. This seems particularly harsh as this will probably hurt the hardest hit industries the most. This will also be a blow to taxpayers who were counting on submitting their tax returns as soon as possible in order to get their tax refunds.

Tax season deadlines for non-provisional taxpayers will be November 16, 2020 and provisional taxpayers will be January 31, 2021.

The pressure is on employers to ensure that all their returns are submitted and deferred payment arrangements are put in place if they are not able to pay.

South Africans may see tax increases soon

Chief economist of the Efficient Group, Dawie Roodt, recently told Business Tech that South Africa’s growing budget deficit may result in further tax increases to help cover the shortfall.

Increased taxes could arise because:

  • Moody’s may downgrade South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to sub-investment grade because of the country’s poor economic figures
  • The fiscus is in deep trouble
  • Debts owed by state-owned enterprises amount to around half a trillion rand
  • SARS is struggling to collect sufficient taxes to cover the government’s growing fiscal deficit

Taxes could take the form of:

  • An increase in personal income tax
  • A VAT hike
  • A potential increase in fuel levies
  • Fiscal drag (when people, who have normal inflation-related increases in pay, jump into new higher tax brackets because the brackets have not also moved up by at least inflation)
  • Stealth, or hidden, taxes

SARS (South African Revenue Service) has encouraged taxpayers to submit income tax returns via the SARS eFiling or the SARS MobiApp when the tax season commences on 1 July 2019.

Taxpayers who do not use SARS eFiling or the SARS MobiApp and require assistance from SARS branch staff to file their income tax returns will only be able to do so from 1 August 2019 to 31 October 2019.

What is the SARS MobiApp?

The SARS MobiApp is a mobile channel from which you can complete and submit your Income Tax Return (ITR12).

You can easily install the SARS MobiApp from the App Store (for Apple devices) or Google Play Store (for Android devices). On the SARS MobiApp you can register, complete, save and submit your 2019 return, as well as returns from previous years.

You may also use the app for the following:

  • Register for eFiling
  • Reset your username and password
  • File your return
  • Upload and submit supporting documents
  • Make a payment to SARS
  • Set up a Call Back from the SARS Contact Centre
  • View a Notice of Assessment
  • Request and view the Income Tax Statement of Account
  • View the status of the return
  • Use the tax calculator
  • Which devices are compatible with the SARS MobiApp?
  • iOS version 10 to latest
  • Android version 5.0 to latest

Expect temporary downtime at SARS

Source: Algoa FM

The South African Revenue Services (SARS) on Monday announced it will be migrating to a new hosting platform for its electronic services this month.

SARS said the “new and reliable platform” features the latest technology on the market, and includes a refresh of SARS’ hardware and software.

According to a statement, this is part of their journey towards digital transformation, which is expected to deliver a myriad of innovative solutions in support of their mandate to make it easy and safe for taxpayers to comply.

During the migration the following services will be affected:

  • SARS eFiling
  • eFiling app
  • e@syFile
  • Employer and SARS website

The Customs Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) gateway, which is the primary electronic channel used by Customs clients to communicate with SARS, will not be impacted.

Clients are encouraged to conclude all transactions on these systems well before the migration. However, urgent transactions that need to be made during this period can be done manually at all of their branches which will operate on normal hours.

R14.6bn tax collection deficit for SARS

By Katya Stead for Fin24

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) announced on Monday afternoon that it had collected R1 287.6bn in tax for the financial year ended March 31 2019, some R14.6bn less than what was estimated in the revised Budget.

The tax agency’s acting head, Mark Kingon, made the announcement in Pretoria. The 2019 revised Budget estimated a tax haul of R1 302.2bn for the past financial year.

“It should be noted that these are preliminary results, which will be subject to detailed financial reconciliation and a final audit.” the agency said in a statement.

While SARS collected more tax in total in the year ended March 31, it also paid out more in refunds.

The revenue collection agency said that gross collections grew by 8.6% year-on-year. Refunds recorded an even more impressive annual growth of of 22.7%.

“The gross amount collected is R1 575.4bn, which was offset by refunds of R287.8bn, resulting in net collections of R1 287.6bn. The net revenue outcome of R1 287.6bn represents a growth of R71.2bn (5.8%) compared to the 2017/18 financial year.”

This follows the announcement by the minister of finance during the mini budget that the VAT refund envelope would be increased to allow the release of refunds from the fiscus back into the economy.

VAT refunds for the year totalled R229.2bn, an increase of R38.1bn, or 19.9%, over the previous year.

Speaking at the results release on Monday, Mamiky Leolo, acting group executive of the tax, customs and excise unit at SARS, said the shortfall was near historic proportions. “This is the highest decline we’ve seen since the Great Depression. The deviation is R14.6 billion. I think in terms of the numbers it is a bit of a shock. But statistically, we are 1.1% off. We’ve done a very good job under tough circumstances.”

Despite the shortfall, the agency is targeting a total of R1 422bn in tax revenue collection for the 2019/20 year.

Fired Moyane demands reinstatement

Source: Fin24

Axed SARS boss Tom Moyane has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa demanding that Ramaphosa withdraw his letter of termination to Moyane before the end of the week.

In a letter issued via his attorney Eric Mabuza on Tuesday, Moyane gave Ramaphosa a deadline of 12 noon on Friday November 9 to withdraw the termination on grounds that the president’s conduct was “irrational, unlawful and invalid”.

“[W]e are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that you must forthwith withdraw your letter of termination dated 1 November 2018, restore the status quo which obtained before the service thereof (i.e. that our client is suspended with pay pending the outcome of the Disciplinary Inquiry) and duly await the outcome of the pending Constitutional Court application and/or the Disciplinary Inquiry,” the letter reads.

Last week the Presidency confirmed that President Cyril Ramaphosa had fired Tom Moyane as the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Ramaphosa had heeded the recommendations of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry, which submitted its interim report at the end of September.

Retired judge Robert Nugent and his assistants unanimously agreed that Moyane does not have the character of a person fit to lead Sars and he should be removed from office as a matter of urgency.

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