As South Africa grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has encouraged tax payers to file their tax returns from home, as the 2020 filing season commences on 1 August 2020.
“This year, we want all tax payers to fulfil their tax obligations from the comfort and safety of their homes. This will be done to keep everyone safe from COVID-19,” SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said.
Addressing a virtual media briefing on Thursday on the 2020/2021 Filing Season, he said SARS has completely removed the need for anyone to visit a SARS office but to do everything online.
“We have used a broad variety of data. We are continually expanding and increasing this data set, as well as algorithms to inform our design for the filing season and optimizing the experience for compliant tax payers and detect any form of non-compliant,” Kieswetter said.
Tax payers, who require assistance to complete their tax returns, may call the SARS contact centre as of 1 September to 16 November 2020.
“We have enabled almost 1 000 agents with a virtual platform to conduct interviews and assist tax payers. We have virtualized our contact centres so that we also allow our agents to work from home,” the Commissioner said.
Tax payers, who insist on visiting the SARS offices, will need to make an appointment. This measure has been introduced to avoid long queues and to practice social distancing in the interest of limiting the spreading of the virus.
“We will communicate continuously during this period to provide you with your clarity on your tax obligation. We will use social media, direct messaging, the SARS website and educational videos and webinars,” Kieswetter said.
SARS has added more than 30 additional digital functions in an effort to expand its offering to all tax payers.
Kieswetter has encouraged tax payers to ensure that their tax accounts are up to date.
“We make an appeal that during the month of August, ahead of filing your returns… ensure that you are compliant, outstanding returns are up to date and your banking details are in order. We will keep this window open until the end of August,” he said.
From 1 August t 31 August, SARS will send out SMSs to 3.1 million tax payers to advise them on an assessment outcome that has been conducted.
“If you log on to your mobi app or eFiling, you will have an opportunity to view it and accept it. Should a tax payer have additional information, they will be able to edit their returns and still eFile it or use the mobi app,” he said.