Sars auto-assessment: how it works and why you should be careful

Sars’ auto-assessment system allows it to collect income data on behalf of taxpayers.
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The SA Revenue Service (Sars) recently introduced an auto-assessment which allows Sars to file income tax on behalf of taxpayers. It was rolled out on August 1 in response to social distancing protocols because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It collects taxpayers’ income data from financial institutions, employers and medical aid schemes.

Taxpayers receive text messages alerting them they have been auto-assessed. The message contains a link to the eFiling system or Sars Mobi App, where people can either view, accept or edit the outcome of the auto-filing.

Here’s what you should know:

Why you should verify details and declare all income 

Sars spokesperson Siphithi Sibeko told TimesLIVE that taxpayers must check the outcomes of the assessment and amend it where necessary, to ensure the accuracy of its data.

He said under-declaring or over-inflating income could be considered a  criminal offence if “done intentionally”.

Sibeko said it’s possible for an auto-assessment to miss some unknown income sources such as offshore accounts. These should be declared on the system.

Taxpayers must stick to deadline

Taxpayers who file online have until November 16 to finish their income tax filing. Sibeko said there will be no extension beyond the stipulated date.

“Taxpayers must finalise all the process of filing during the filing season and not later. So people have three months to file, and that is sufficient to complete your return to Sars,” he said.

Other taxpayers who cannot file electronically can visit Sars branches on appointment until October 22. Provisional taxpayers who file electronically have until January 29.


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