The 2018 tax season is almost halfway – remember there are only 4 months this year, not 5 – and will close on the 31st of October 2018.

We file close to 300 personal tax returns at nhb.accountant and have done so for over 20 years now. So we do have a good idea of what needs to be done ?

So one of our big issues lately, is the SARS security verification process. Actually getting a profile registered, before you can even file your return, is not that simple.

And it all comes down to security and fraud. So we may be frustrated but we cannot fault them on trying to ensure your tax information is secure and that your refunds are paid to your bank account.

When you try and register your Efiling profile, you may be asked to upload your ID, proof of address and bank confirmation on Efiling. In most cases, if there is a mis-match to the info SARS has on their system, you may need to take originals of these documents into the branch. If there is any change to your bank details, you will always be required to go into a SARS branch with these original documents.

Once this is done at the branch (which a registered Tax Practitioner can also do on your behalf), you’re profile should be activated. If not, you would need to go in again (and again, or again… until SARS is satisfied that your identity has been verified)

Once your profile is active you can then file tax returns, call up tax statements, penalty statements and update your information – though remember changing your bank details could mean another trip to SARS.

You can also print a tax clearance on Efiling, and that’s a good place to check anyway if your taxes are up to date. (Select Tax Status on the top menu bar, then activation on the left and go through he steps. Once active you can select “My Compliance Profile” and view any outstanding returns or payments). It’s good practice to check this every year to make sure no old returns, that weren’t required, have become due now – yes, that happens!

While on that topic / if you find you don’t need to file a return one year, due to being under the limit, or any of SARS listed reasons where a return isn’t needed, my advice is to file anyway. It’s much easier to file a nil return than to try and find documents ten years from now, if it suddenly marked as due; or appealing penalties. SARS does list the reasons where you don’t need to file a return, but they also say that you do need to file a return in the case, IF SARS requests it. And they can request that at any time for any reason. So you may not need to file it now, but they could request it at a later stage. Just file your returns, every year, regardless!

Once you are ready to file your return, please check the calculation before submitting. Save it as well as is not available again. Make sure that you are happy with the result before filing. It’s easier to investigate and get advice if it’s not what you were expecting, than to try and quickly appeal an error.

Once filed, your assessment is available almost immediately. Compare this with your calculator. There are some circumstances where they may differ. If they do, you might need some advice.

Now I would suggest you keep an eye on your profile regularly, even daily. Just login and make sure there are no new updates.

You should receive a notification for upload request for documents within a day, if needed. Once you receive this, upload your documents ASAP. You should upload within 30 days. Upload all the documents, and if there are any complicated items, include a letter with an explanation. The more the better! Note you are limited to 20 attachments, but they can each be 5MB in size. This year we now also receive a notification that the documents have been uploaded.

If you don’t receive a request, then SARS has not requested to review your supporting documents. Your refund should be paid out within 7 days. If this does not happen, make sure there isn’t an upload link available (under tax history on the return page). You may have missed the email. If there isn’t anything outstanding, I would suggest phoning SARS after 7 working days. They might advise you that they need bank details verified at the branch.

After uploading your documents, SARS has 21 working days to review and finalize, or request more info. More info is usually a letter emailed to you, so make sure your information is correct. After 21 working days and no confirmation that your return has been finalized, or your refund hasn’t been paid, phone SARS. It may be that it’s still in process and you can ask them to escalate your review. Once escalated, I would suggest following up every 7 days. Keep case numbers. Sometimes you can get a bit stuck in this loop, but just keep following up, we don’t have too many returns stuck in this cycle.

Sometimes during the waiting period, you receive no letter, no notification, just an additional assessment. This means SARS has disagreed with something you filed, an re-assessed your return. In this case no phone or explanation will suffice, you need to start with the official procedure and appeal the assessment, if you don’t agree. SARS decision is not final.

We appeal many incorrect assessments. But the procedure for an assessment appeal is complicated and very strict and I would 100% recommend expert advice here. But please act fast. There are very strict timelines to appeal an assessment and if it’s not done within these timelines, you need very serious and convincing reasons why this wasn’t done immediately (and they need to be severe and extreme – not that you were busy, or didn’t know!). You should submit your appeal within a month to avoid any problems.

Occasionally we are advised that a refund has not been paid due to a special stopper. This is just another security verification procedure and also needs you to go into SARS with your ID, address, bank confirmation and also your tax documents for the year. There are no set timelines for then finalizing your refund, but I would suggest the same procedure of following up after 22 working days, and then weekly.

Lastly, if you owe SARS money, check the due dates carefully on your assessment. Pay before the second due date. If you pay after this date, interest will be charged effective from the first due date.

Just make sure once you file your return, that you check you’re profile regularly for updates, follow up with SARS if there is a delay and make sure if something doesn’t look right, that you get some advice.

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