The Income Tax filing season is now open and many taxpayers eagerly await a refund as soon as they submit their return. SARS has previously been quick to refund taxpayers who are due for a refund – within a day or two. However, since 2014, tax advisors and auditors has seen various changes in the process that results in refund delays. The questions is, why is the SARS process now extend and what are the three main reasons why taxpayers are waiting longer for refunds?
1) Invalid banking details on RAV01
Invalid banking details according to SARS’ records can delay your refund. To prevent fraud, SARS is verifying many taxpayers’ banking details. Prior to filing your Income Tax return, ensure that the banking details as reflected on your RAV01 form (available on SARS e-filing) reflect as valid. If you have changed your banking details since your previous tax return submission, first update your details on the RAV01 form and then file your return. In some instances SARS might require you to personally visit your nearest SARS branch to verify the change of your banking details. You will be notified in writing. Note that specific supporting documents will be required (make sure to enquire before going in to SARS).
2) SARS Special Stopper:
The special stopper placed on refunds can only be lifted at a SARS branch. You will need to provide SARS with proof of your residential address, a certified copy of your ID and bank statement not older than 3 months that is stamped by the bank.
3) Verification of your tax return:
South Africa has seen a significant increase in the amount of taxpayers selected for a review or verification. If SARS requests supporting documentation, ensure that you upload all the relevant documentation that was used to compile the income and expenses claimed on your return. It is advisable to prepare a schedule summarising (for example) all your medical expenses incurred. If you are in receipt of a travel allowance remember to attach the detailed logbook and proof of purchase of the motor vehicle.
The South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) has published the deadlines for the submission of Income Tax returns. The deadlines are dependent on the manner of submission of the tax return. These deadlines are not applicable to companies who are required to submit their returns within 12 months of their financial year end via e-Filing.
The 2017 Tax Season will officially kick off on 1 July 2017 and individual taxpayers will be able to submit their returns for the tax year ended 28 February 2017. eFilers will be first in line and can file from 1 July while SARS branches and the contact centre will be open to assist only as from 3 July 2017.
The Income Tax Act has been amended to impose administrative penalties for non-compliance. These penalties can vary from R250 to R16 000 per month. Kindly ensure that you have all the supporting documentation for your return as SARS could request this if you are selected for a review. Safeguard supporting documentation for at least five years in case SARS needs access to them in future.