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Tax without tears

Jun 12 2013 11:37
*Marc Sevitz and Evan Robinson


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Beware of non-compliant tax practitioners

Cape Town - The uneasy murmur of taxpayers can be heard all around the country as the start of tax season on July 1 approaches.

The date triggers a frantic search by taxpayers through stacks of documentation in the hope that this will be the key to a nice mid-year 'bonus' from the taxman. 

Unfortunately for most, submitting a tax return can be extremely stressful, due not only to the stringent level of bookkeeping required, but also because the process is fraught with pitfalls and potential penalties.

Taxpayers should note however that there is help out there for every concern and question, from the South African Revenue Service (Sars) itself to tax practitioners and online services providing step-by-step assistance.

What you need to know: tax season opens on July 1 and runs until Novembe 22 2013.

During this time, salary earning taxpayers are expected to complete their 2013 income tax returns (an ITR12 form) and submit them to Sars. The 2013 tax return covers income earned for the 2013 tax year, which is from March 1 2012 to February 28 2013.

Tax returns can be submitted in person at a Sars branch near you (be prepared to stand in a lengthy queue and bring every single document with you, along with a good amount of patience) or online via Sars eFiling.

Failing to submit your return on time can result in penalties of R250 per month and interest on any amounts owing. Add to this the fact that Sars will withhold any refunds due to you if penalties are outstanding and it makes sense to submit early and on time.

Any mistakes made on your return for lack of "due care" can result in penalties of anywhere between 50% and 200% of the tax value of the mistake being charged against you so if you are unsure, rather make the effort to find proper assistance and do things correctly from the start.

Depending on your individual situation, you will need the following documents to complete your tax return:
• IRP5 - this describes your income earned and the tax already paid to Sars as a result of it. This should have already been received from your employer, and if not you can demand it.
• IT3b and IT3c - these are investment certificates received from the bank and other financial institutions that describe interest or dividends you earned. If you did not receive these, you can ask your bank for copies.
• Medical Aid certificate as well as all copies and proof of payment of any "out of pocket" medical expenses prescribed by a medical practitioner that you might have paid.
• Donations certificates made to registered PBOs (charities). Only your donations to PBOs that are accompanied by a certificate will count as a tax deduction.
• Pension Fund, RAF and Income Protection contribution certificates received.

Get all of these documents together along with anything else which describes income earned or tax you have already paid.

Sit down with a cup of hot coffee and take your time completing your ITR12 to the best of your ability. All said and done you will probably only need an hour -  you can then relax and look forward to a tax refund appearing in your bank account in a matter of days, if you are due one.

So that's all there is to it. Keep proper records during the year, take it slow and steady, find out the answers to all your questions before you begin and you will have nothing to fear this tax season.

Hopefully you will end up with a little extra cash in your pocket this winter after doing the right thing and filing your return.

*Entrepreneurs Marc Sevitz and Evan Robinson run the tech startup TaxTim.

Check out TaxTim’s website: or on Facebook




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