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SARS on tax deadline: It was a crazy day but our systems worked well

Nov 01 2018 12:51
Tehillah Niselow, Fin24

The eFiling system worked "exceptionally well", on Wednesday, the deadline for individual taxpayers to submit their tax returns, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) has said – amid reports that the Information Technology (IT) infrastructure was on the verge of collapse.

"It was a crazy day, but very successful in terms of our system… we didn’t even have one minute of downtime," said SARS executive for compliance, Fareed Kahn.

SARS acting group executive for IT strategy and architecture, Andre Rabie, testified at the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into tax administration in October that the digital infrastructure at the revenue agency was on the brink of collapse due to the halting of the modernisation programme four years ago.

SARS later denied this, and said that reports of an imminent breakdown were creating unnecessary alarm and uncertainty.

Three deadlines

Kahn said 300 000 returns were submitted using the eFiling system on Wednesday, and some SARS branches worked until 22:00 as they had committed to serving everyone in the queue who held a ticket.

SARS had a triple submission deadline on Wednesday: the personal income tax returns, PAYE Employer interim reconciliations, and many value added tax (VAT) vendors. This showed the systems "worked very well", Kahn said.

He urged taxpayers to submit their returns, even if they missed the Wednesday deadline, as every month of delay will incur recurring penalties, which range between R250 and R15 000.

The state of the SARS digital & IT system attracted further controversy in October, when the head of the division, Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane, told the Nugent Commission that the cost of fixing the system would be R2.16bn.

She later apologised for her testimony and an earlier television interview where she appeared uncertain and vague.

Provisional tax payers (businesses, and people earning income from rentals and investments) have until January 31 to submit their returns via eFiling.

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