Tax season is with us again, with filing for the 2012 tax year set to begin on 1 July and end on 30 November. This tax year covers 1 March 2011 to 29 February 2012.
Here’s how to make the process as trouble-free as possible.
1. Get started now or as soon as possible.
Filing an income tax can be a surprising amount of work. It’s best to get an early start so that you can submit your return before the rush starts.
If you are due a refund, the sooner you file, the sooner you’ll get your money. And if you have underestimated your tax contribution, you may be able to save substantially on penalties and interest payable if you submit early.
Don’t wait until the absolute deadline to file since SARS offices can be very busy at this time and the eFiling service has been known to fold under deadline demand.
2. Use eFiling.
The SARS eFiling service is convenient, secure and easy to use. It saves you time and hassle of messing around with a paper-based return and standing in a long queue. You can file seven days a week, 24 hours per day with no problem.
Plus, if you use eFiling you have until 23 November to submit your return. If you file manually by post or SARS drop box, you must file by 28 September.
If you are new to eFiling, register now and spend some time learning how it works. That way, your eFiling profile will be ready when filing season starts and you’ll know what to do.
3. Make sure you have all your supporting documents ready.
Gather all your supporting documentation so that you have it on hand to file and can produce it if SARS asks for it in an audit.
Supporting documents may include:
• Your IRP5 tax certificate from your employer;
• An income tax certificate from your medical aid scheme;
• A list and the receipts of medical expenses not covered by your medical aid scheme;
• A tax certificate for your contributions towards a retirement annuity fund;
• A detailed logbook specifying your business trips and travel costs for the period
4. Be 100% honest.
It is illegal to lie on your return by inflating your expenses or not declaring your correct income.
Since the inception of eFiling there has been a substantial increase in random audits performed by SARS, accompanied by severe penalties for false declarations on tax returns.
The penalties, interest and stress of saving a bit on your tax bill are simply not the risk since your chance of getting caught out is bigger than ever.
5. Not sure of something? Ask a tax professional.
SARS has tried to make life easy for the tax payer by simplifying the paperwork and process of paying tax, but tax affairs can still be complicated.
Rather contact the SARS call centre on 0800 00 7277 (0800 00 SARS) or a tax expert to ensure you do your return correctly the first time than risk getting something wrong.
A professional tax consultant may also be able to help you to identify legal ways to reduce the amount of tax that you pay each year.
*Johan Swart is a tax manager at Legal & Tax. For more information on Legal & Tax, visit www.legalandtax.co.za, call 0860 LTS LTS (587 587) or email email@example.com. Follow us @LegalandTax on Twitter or join us on Facebook to keep up with Legal & Tax news and views.
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