Media Statement by the Minister of Finance – Launch of the 2012 Tax Season
2 Jul 2012
Everyone can be good at Tax
Today we are proud to avail important new details of the 2012 Tax Season for individual taxpayers and trusts.
From around 6h30 this morning hundreds of South African Revenue Service (SARS) officials across the country have been out at street intersections, taxi ranks and bus stops, universities and toll gates on highways to distribute Tax Season leaflets to the public during peak hour traffic.
Building on last year’s remarkable performance, SARS expects that over 5 million taxpayers will this year submit their income tax returns over the next five months.
For the 2012 Tax Season, SARS will unveil new technology and improved services that will make it much easier and far more convenient for taxpayers to submit their returns. This is the first time technology of its kind will be implemented in a service environment in this country – either by government or the private sector.
Five key new service initiatives will be available to taxpayers: quicker assessments within minutes of submission, a new eFiling application for smart phones, filing a tax return through your cellphone, real-time call centre assistance to help with filing (Help-You-eFile), and training videos on how to eFile available on YouTube (youtube.com/sarstax).
In addition to better technology, during the past financial year SARS has also opened a number of new branches as well as refurbishing others, and introducing new mobile branches across the country to extend its presence to areas that were previously under serviced.
The South African tax system has benefitted from strong growth in the number of registered taxpayers over recent years which is a direct indication of the growing levels of tax compliance in our country.
The annual Tax Season represents one of the biggest direct engagements between an institution of the South African government and a growing body of millions of economically active citizens in the country.
By the deadline last year a record 4.86 million individuals and trusts submitted their tax returns on time – 23% higher than the previous year.
Our journey towards higher levels of tax compliance over the past 18 years is another achievement our country can rightfully be proud of:
- The number of registered individual taxpayers increased from 1.7 million in 1994 to more than 6 million in 2010. This number has doubled following policy changes in 2011 to register all individuals in the country who are formally employed (13.7 million individuals by 31 March 2012) despite changes to the tax thresholds
- Over the same period the number of companies registered for income tax increased from 422 000 in 1994 to more than 2 million in 2011/12
- Registered VAT vendors increased from 397 000 in 1994 to 664 000 at present. This number has increased while the threshold for VAT registrations has also risen substantially to the present R 1 million turn-over per year
- The number of registered employers grew from 177 000 in 1994 to 385 000 to date.
It is worth re-emphasising that almost every one of the estimated population of more than 40 million consumers in South African makes a contribution to the fiscus through paying tax – be it through income tax on earnings, capital gains or interest, Value Added Tax when a child buys a sweet, the fuel levy when we fill up our vehicles or the many other tax instruments designed to ensure we all share the responsibility for our country’s future.
It is this shared responsibility that has contributed to our fiscal strength and stability, growing each year as reflected by total revenue collection increasing from R114 billion in 1994/95 to over R742.7 billion in the most recent financial year.
2012 Tax Season Innovations to Improve Compliance
The SARS Compliance Programme is aimed at improving tax compliance through education to taxpayers, providing efficient service and enforcing the law in instances of non-compliance.
Last year 99% of all returns were completed and submitted electronically – either with assistance at a SARS branch or by taxpayers or their intermediaries via eFiling.
The increased use of technology enabled SARS to process 98% of all returns within 24 hours. SARS also paid R11.9 billion in refunds to taxpayers – 85% of all refunds were paid within 72 hours – a contribution to household incomes and the domestic economy.
This year the use of new technology will offer the following service and education innovations in line with the SARS Compliance Programme to taxpayers:
1. Quicker Assessments
SARS will give taxpayers their assessments within minutes of filing their returns. Taxpayers visiting a SARS branch office will be able to leave with the outcome of their assessments and eFilers will receive them electronically before the log off. This is a huge improvement on the three months average it took in 2006, three days in 2009 and 24 hours in 2010 and 2011. The assessment indicates whether a refund is owed to the taxpayer by SARS or whether the taxpayer owes SARS additional tax.
2. New eFiling Application (eFiling App)
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.
3. Cellphone Filing
SARS will introduced 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 who will guide taxpayers 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.
(Note: The eFiling App, sarsefiling.mobi site and Help-You-eFile service are in final testing and will be made available during the course of this Tax Season. Watch press for details)
5. SARS on YouTube
This initiative by SARS is an educational tool. Taxpayers who need training on how to register for eFiling, how to complete and submit returns on eFiling and how to submit supporting documents to SARS can visit the SARS YouTube channel at youtube.com/sarstax.
- Tax Season 2012 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.
Issued by: South African Revenue Service
2 Jul 2012
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