The end of tax returns?

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) aims to achieve a return-free tax system for the majority of salaried individual taxpayers within the next five years.

This tax system will have an individual’s tax liability calculated using electronic data supplied directly to Sars by third parties. This amount would be reflected in a tax account sent to the taxpayer.

As part of this process to eliminate tax returns, this year taxpayers earning less than R120 000 a year and who have a single employer, with no additional income or deductions, need not request or submit a tax return. “In such instances the details of the taxpayer can be verified on our system from the payroll information that the employer submits,” says Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay, who adds that although a qualifying registered taxpayer need not apply for a tax return, if the individual has not registered before with Sars, he or she must still register but will not have to submit a return.

This year individuals earning more than R120 000 will receive a “pre-populated” tax return. These tax returns will contain all basic information, such as your personal details, address, as well as income earned from the employer and other income such as interest or rental.

These figures will be collected from data submitted to Sars by the employer and other service providers, such as investment houses and medical schemes. Unless you disagree with the figures, you will ­simply need to sign the return and send it back. The catch, however, is that your employer has to have met the September 15 deadline to submit its IRP5s to Sars for it to pre-populate the forms.

Request your form
To customise a tax return, each taxpayer will have to submit a request for a tax return. Lackay says this year Sars will not issue returns to all registered taxpayers. “A large number are using eFiling and we want to ensure that the return goes to the correct address and to the taxpayer it is intended for.”

As part of this request process, taxpayers will be required to answer several questions that will help to customise their returns. To ascertain which type of return is needed, the questions focus on what type of income was received, including investment income, and whether medical expenses or retirement annuity contributions will be claimed.

As a result of these questions, the income tax return will be simplified further and will contain only those income and deduction sections relevant to the individual. So some taxpayers will receive simple tax returns, while those with more complicated tax issues will receive a form with appropriate fields for completion, such as capital gains tax, foreign dividends and business income.

How to get your return

  • Complete a form: You can obtain a tax return by completing the Income Tax Return Request (ITRR) form, which has been mailed to about 3,6-million taxpayers and send it back to Sars. Returns are also available at Sars branch offices.
  • Make a call: You can call the new toll-free call centre number 0800 00 SARS (7277), where you can order a tax return on the telephone. Lackay says the new interactive voice recording system will note your answers and create a return that will be mailed to you.
  • Get online: Taxpayers and tax practi-tioners can from this week apply for their tax return online at SARS eFiling (

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