Cape Town - So you want to use e-filing to do your tax but aren't quite sure how to go about it, or maybe you've tried it but got stuck somewhere along the way?
Fear not, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) has come to your rescue with a new service.
As of Monday, you can get help directly from a Sars call centre agent. With your permission, the call centre representative will be able to help while you complete your tax return online by accessing your e-filing browsing session while you are working on it.
According to Sars, this is the first time any revenue service around the world offers such a service.
Specially trained call centre agents will be on hand to guide you through the e-filing steps and talk you through any sticky patches you may encounter while completing your return.
This means that you as a taxpayer can benefit by being able to call on the support and advice of Sars staff - without even having to visit a branch.
Here's how it works:
• When you click on the Help-You-eFile icon on your e-filing profile, you will be prompted to accept the terms and conditions. You will then receive a Help-You-eFile session reference number on your profile.
• Next step is to call the Sars contact centre on 0800 00 7277, quoting your reference number to the agent who responds.
• The agent will then launch the Help-You-eFile session and you will receive a request asking whether they may connect to the session.
By sharing the same information on two different computer screens, you will be allowing the Sars agent to shadow you as you complete the return, and even highlight areas on your screen for additional clarity.
To make you feel safe, Sars contact centre agents won't be able to see sensitive security fields such as your banking details, password and login – but all other information will be visible.
The agent also has view-only access and cannot enter any information on the return, but they can direct you as taxpayer on where to enter information by highlighting fields on the return.
A new tutorial video on how to use Help-You-eFile will be available on the Sars YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/sarstax from later on Monday.
To date, Sars has received 2.3 million tax returns since the 2012 tax season commenced at the beginning of July.
The number of returns submitted by far exceeds Sars' own expectations – by the same time last year 1.5 million tax returns had been submitted.
Currently the average rate of submission per day since July 1 2012 is over 40 300.
The unintended consequence has been that queues at branches have been much longer than during the previous year. Across the country Sars branch staff, on average, assist more than 20 000 taxpayers per day.
Statistics indicate that branches are seeing 55% more taxpayers than the same period last year.
And because of this pressure on Sars branches, the average queuing time is between 60 and 90 minutes – although once members of the public are with a consultant, it takes only 10-12 minutes to capture returns.
Sars hopes to relieve some of the pressure on branch offices with its new facility.
Asa taxpayer you score with e-filing: once you are registered, you can view your tax status and make electronic payments to Sars 24/7.
Make a note of these deadline dates:
• The deadline for taxpayers who submit their tax returns manually by post or by dropping it off in a Sars drop box is September 28 2012.
• The deadline for all taxpayers who submit their returns electronically at a Sars branch is November 23 2012.
• Non-provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via e-filing also have until November 23 2012.
• Provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via e-filing have until January 31 2013.
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