How to avoid e-filing mistakes

Johannesburg - SA Revenue Service's online tax submission system, Sars e-filing, has made tax submissions simpler, but business owners need to take care when submitting returns online.

"The implications of submitting the more multifaceted tax items incorrectly can be detrimental to taxpayers, with inflated amounts inaccurately being paid to Sars," consultancy Grant Thornton said in a statement on Wednesday.

While the 2010 tax filing season officially opened on July 1, the deadline for electronic submissions on e-filing is November 26, 2010 as opposed to the postal submissions deadline which is September 30, 2010.

The deadline for people or trusts which are classified as provisional tax payers has been extended to January 31, 2011.

"Company tax returns differ significantly, however, from those applicable to individuals with the submission deadline only 12 months after the company's financial year end," tax partner Neville Sweidan said.

Details relating to foreign income, capital gains or losses, local farming, non-taxable considerations or local business, trade and professional income could become complicated issues to submit correctly online.

"In terms of income earned outside of South Africa's borders, often a withholding tax has been deducted by the foreign institution."

Strict on deadlines

Sweidan said that in certain circumstances, the withholding tax was deductible from South Africa taxes payable - which could result in a significant saving for the taxpayer.

Capital gains and losses were also a complex section of the tax legislation and it was important to have all the necessary information at hand in order to claim the appropriate base cost or exclusions.

Another tax complication could arise when individual taxpayers experienced a sudden increase or decrease in net assets, which was reflected in statements of assets and liabilities arising from non-taxable receipts or losses.

"It is very important to explain the reasons for the increase or loss to Sars appropriately," Sweidan said.

"Failure to do so can result in exasperating queries and delays in receiving correct assessments."

He said Sars was very strict on deadlines as well as whether an individual's personal particulars on record were accurate.

"Penalties for inaccurate personal details or late submissions can range from R250 to R16 000 a month, depending on the category of the taxpayer which is determined by the individual's taxable income."

Sweidan said using e-filing to submit company and personal tax returns on time and accurately was certainly a whole lot more efficient, but it might require some careful preparation and research beforehand, to confirm all data is correct, and so limiting the need for amendments later on.

  - Sapa

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