Tax: Virtual filing season kicks off with SARS promises

Taxpayers will for the first time be confronted with a completely virtual tax filing season due to the onset and impact of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, says a Moneyweb report. All branches of SARS will remain closed for at least six weeks, despite the annual filing season having officially kicked off on the 1st of July. SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter discourages any face-to-face engagements at branch offices. Announcing details of this year’s filing season for individuals, he said all efforts are being made to migrate taxpayers to the revenue service’s digital platforms such as eFiling.

Kieswetter says despite an initial good start to the fiscal year, the third wave, rising unemployment, and company closures, especially in the hospitality industry, may have a negative impact on revenue collections. It is also improving its capability to detect fraudulent activities. During the previous filing season, it prevented undue refunds of R57bn for all taxes, and R5bn for individuals.

Kieswetter warned taxpayers about claiming home office expenses after working from home during lockdowns, saying they should think twice, according to a Netwerk24 report. He said in Afrikaans, ‘die kool is nie die sous werd nie’ (it is not worth the trouble). Of the 1 500 claims SARS has already received for home office expenses, some 1 300 did not fully meet the requirements and only 50% of the expenses were allowed, Kieswetter said. SARS has published guidelines on its website for home office expenses.

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