Pretoria – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has reached the one million mark of income tax returns – just 22 days after the current tax season opened on July 1.
In a statement, SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay said this morning, they received a total of 1 001 162 income tax returns for the 2012 tax season. Last year, it took five weeks to reach the 1 million mark.
This is a phenomenal response by the South African taxpayers. The levels of early filing have exceeded even SARS’s own expectations.
“For the corresponding period last year, SARS had received 681 497 tax returns. By 7:30am this morning, 319 665 more returns had been submitted compared to the same period last year. This represents an increase of 62% for returns submitted during the first three weeks of the tax season,” said Lackay.
He said the highest rate of submissions was on Monday 2 July, where a total of 82 225 tax returns were received shortly after the official launch of the 2012 Tax Season.
“The higher rate of submissions and much faster turn-around times in processing tax returns has enabled SARS to pay R3.07 billion in refunds to 501 096 taxpayers over the past 22 days.
“This is a significant, direct injection into the domestic economy and household incomes. This is in comparison to refunding 323 197 taxpayers to the value of almost R2 billion in the previous tax season,” he said.
This year there is again a strong migration to electronic filing via SARS branches or eFiling, as only 3 796 returns were submitted manually (a decrease of 32% from last year).
A total of 620 564 returns have been submitted via eFiling, which is 32% higher than for the same period last year. At branch offices, SARS has assisted taxpayers across the country to submit 376 802 returns electronically.
Returns submitted with assistance from SARS at branch offices are 82% higher than for the same period last year. This is because a far higher number of taxpayers approached SARS branch offices for assistance much earlier this year. Waiting periods and queues at the biggest SARS offices have been longer over the past three weeks.
According to Lackay, the situation at branch offices is being monitored on a daily basis and SARS will avail additional resources to assist taxpayers over the coming weeks.
“SARS wants to thank all taxpayers who have already submitted their income tax returns for this year and wants to encourage all taxpayers to continue to submit returns early in order to avoid the last minute rush during the final days of the tax season.
“SARS has undertaken to provide a range of exciting technologies to taxpayers to make filing a tax return more convenient,” he said.
These products are currently being tested with a sample group of taxpayers, and will be ready for roll-out over the coming weeks. SARS will introduce an eFiling Application that allows taxpayers to complete and submit their ITR12 tax returns and receive their assessments on new devices like iPads, smartphones and tablets.
SARS will introduce an eFiling mobi site (sarsefiling.mobi) where taxpayers can complete and submit their ITR12 return on their cellphones. The taxpayer can visit www.sarsefiling.co.za and the phone will be routed to the mobisite.
SARS has utilised cutting edge technology to develop a service called Help-You-eFile in which taxpayers can get access to a SARS Contact Centre agent while they are eFiling their return. The agent will guide the taxpayer through the process.
With the consent of the taxpayer, the SARS Contact Centre agent will be able to access the taxpayer’s browsing session and view exactly what the taxpayer is doing on their screen, enabling them to guide and help the taxpayer step-by-step in completing and submitting their ITR12 return on eFiling.
Deadlines for the 2012 tax season runs from 1 July 2012 to 31 January 2013. The deadline for taxpayers, who submit their tax returns manually by post or by dropping it off in a SARS drop box, is 28 September 2012.
The deadline for all taxpayers who submit their returns electronically at a SARS branch is 23 November 2012.
Non-provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via eFiling also have until 23 November 2012.
Provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via eFiling have until 31 January 2013. – SAnews