Owing to the soaring COVID-19 infections currently sweeping the country, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has announced the temporary closure of tax branches from physical visits as from 1 July.
This comes as the country’s seven-day moving average of positive COVID-19 infections surpassed 12 000 cases. On Wednesday alone, 17 493 infections and 166 deaths were recorded.
In terms of the Disaster Management Act, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) remains an essential service.
“We have always stressed the importance of balancing the continuity of this service with the risk of transmission.
“With the rising case numbers and the onset of the third wave peak of the pandemic, we have decided to close our tax branches temporarily for physical visits as from 1 July.”
The revenue collector said it was able to embark on this measure as its digital platforms had demonstrated the ability to meet obligations efficiently online.
The temporary closure of the tax branches is not anticipated to affect the start of the Filing Season for individuals who traditionally file via eFiling or the SARS MobiApp. These taxpayers are encouraged to continue doing so digitally, starting from 1 July 2021.
SARS reiterated that branch filing would not commence on 1 July.
“At this stage, we plan to commence physical branch visits on 16 August, but will review this continuously. Taxpayers are advised not to come to a SARS branch. The branches will be closed until an announcement is made confirming the reopening date.
“During the branch closures, taxpayers who require assistance to file online will be assisted telephonically with the support of dedicated SARS staff,” said SARS.
All Customs Ports of Entry will be open for frontline customs operations, but not for face-to-face client engagement other than for clearance and inspection purposes.
In line with its commitment to modernise systems and make it easy for taxpayers to meet their tax obligations, SARS said it would continue to use technology to ensure continued service to taxpayers in a manner that ensures both the safety of employees as well as taxpayers.
Members of the public can make bookings for virtual appointments via the SARS website on: https://www.sars.gov.za/contact-us/make-an-appointment/; and sending an SMS to 47277 with the word “Booking” and passport/ID number/Asylum permit number and a SARS agent will contact them to arrange a booking on their behalf.
During this period, the SARS Contact Centre (0800 00 7277) will continue to service any queries from members of the public.
“SARS will continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and keep all South African taxpayers informed of any changes to these arrangements.” –