If filling in a tax return were an easy task, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) would not have a page dedicated to ‘How to complete your income tax return‘.
When in doubt, turn to a professional for advice, but in the meantime here are some tips for a smooth tax return submission:
Income versus salary
Ensure that you include all your sources of income:
- Interest that you have earned on your investments
Don’t be tempted to omit this. All financial institutions complete an IT3(b) certificate, from which SARS learns what interest you have earned in the year of assessment. You will face penalties for any omissions.
- Income from renting out a property, such as a holiday home
- Income from a trust
Home office expenses
SARS is scrutinising home office expenses, and random site visits are not unheard of.
To calculate office expenses accurately, the following formula is recommended:
Simply uploading your medical aid tax certificate is not sufficient for the claim for out-of-pocket expenses. SARS carefully looks for the proof of payment for qualifying medical expenses paid out of the taxpayer’s own pocket; so, for SARS to allow the deduction, a medical invoice must be submitted with a proof of payment.
When it comes to claiming a travel allowance, it is not unusual for SARS to request more information, in addition to a taxpayer’s log book.
Glitches and errors
Should you forget to upload all the necessary documents, an additional assessment will be raised, and you could find yourself owing SARS money. Have all your supporting documents ready before you complete and submit your ITR12 tax return.
Filing taxes can be a complicated matter, and SARS recognises that taxpayers may make genuine errors when submitting their tax form. Deal with errors in the following ways:
- Request for correction: Use this form if you have made an error or omission on your return, or if you believe SARS has captured your information incorrectly.
- Notice of objection: Use this form when your information has been captured correctly, but you disagree with your assessment outcome. This must be done within the (TAA) prescription period: 30 days from date of assessment.
For more details on this, consult the SARS guide.
To start your own tax filing, visit the official Tax Season 2018 for Individuals page on the SARS website.
If doing your taxes on your own is too daunting, consider using a tax practitioner – they may save you time, money and stress. The SARS call centre is not always the best route to go.