Tax Season 2023 Now Open – What’s New and What’s Not

The 2023 Tax Season in South Africa opened officially on 7 July 2023 for individuals who are both non-provisional taxpayers and provisional taxpayers – as well as for trusts. 

While much has stayed the same from last year, like the auto assessments introduced in 2022, there are also a number of changes this year – ranging from new deadlines to revised requirements briefly overviewed in the article – which taxpayers should take heed of before proceeding and which provide good reason for speaking to your accountant before submitting your tax for this year’s filling season.  

“The submission of accurate personal income tax returns on time is important for a seamless filing season. Taxpayers must take control of their own tax affairs to ensure they are aware of their obligations and remain compliant.”

SARS recently announced the dates and changes for the 2023 Tax Season, which opened on 7 July 2023 for individuals (non-provisional taxpayers and provisional taxpayers), as well as for trusts. 

The deadline dates are as follows: 

  • Non-provisional taxpayers who were auto assessed have until the normal filing season deadline, 23 October 2023, to file an amended return. Individuals who were auto assessed will receive an SMS or email from SARS.
  • Non-provisional taxpayers who are required to file a return and did not receive a notification from SARS that they were auto assessed must submit a Personal Income Tax Return (ITR12) before 23 October 2023.  
  • Provisional taxpayers as well as trusts can file a return until 23 January 2024.

What’s still the same? 

Much stays the same as last year, including that SARS will again issue auto assessments to taxpayers whose tax affairs are less complicated, usually non-provisional taxpayers who are formally employed.

SARS will send an SMS and/or email to inform taxpayers of the auto assessment, which can be viewed on eFiling or the SARS MobiApp. The auto assessments are based on the data SARS collects from employers, financial institutions, medical schemes, retirement annuity fund administrators and other third-party data providers.

If you agree with your auto-assessment – and have confirmed with your accountant that everything is in order – you are not required to file a tax return and you do not need to do anything further. Where your assessment shows that you owe tax to SARS, payment must be made on or before the payment due date displayed on the “Notice of Assessment” (ITA34). If a refund is due, simply wait for the refund, which can be expected within approximately seventy-two (72) hours if your banking details with SARS are correct.

If you are not in agreement with the auto-assessment, you can edit the declaration by completing and filing a tax return, along with the necessary supporting documents, before 23 October 2023, to enable SARS to consider a revised assessment.

What’s new this year? 

  • Extended auto assessment deadline – this year SARS will allow taxpayers, who did not agree with the auto assessment outcome, to file an amended return until the normal filing season deadline, 23 October 2023. This is a change from the 40 days allowed last year. Where an auto-assessment is issued after 23 October 2023, the 40 business days will start on the date of the notice of the assessment.
  • The payment due dates for non-provisional eFilers will be adjusted to:
    • 30 days after a notice of assessment has been issued for taxpayers who have not been auto-assessment; or
    • 30 days post Filing Season 2023 closing date for auto-assessed taxpayers.
  • Spouses married in community of property assessment – this filing season SARS has retrieved “Married in community of property” status from taxpayer’s previous declaration and collaborated with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm marital status. Where the spouses are successfully matched and have interest investments, SARS will replicate the interest investment certificate on both spouses’ return and they will each be taxed 50% upon assessment.
  • Automated Section 93 reduced assessment process – the new automated process of requesting Reduced Assessment in terms of section 93 of the Tax Administration Act will use a form called RRA01, which can be completed on e-Filing to increase efficiency and reduce costs for taxpayers.
  • Statement of assets and liabilities – provisional taxpayers with business interests are required to declare their assets and liabilities, based on cost, in their tax returns each year. Taxpayers who fall within this category, and with assets above R50 million, are now required to declare specified assets at market values on their 2023 tax returns.
  • Foreign income disclosure – new fields on the return and appropriate source codes have been created for taxpayers who must declare worldwide foreign income from a foreign employer while working in South Africa and/or abroad. 

How to ensure a successful 2023 Tax Season 

SARS has warned taxpayers to not inflate their expenses and/or under-declare their income to obtain impermissible refunds, as this will make them potentially guilty of fraud. In addition, taxpayers who do not adhere to the deadlines of this year’s Filing Season will face administrative non-compliance penalties.  

So, even if you have been auto assessed, it is important to make sure that your return is 100% correct and truthful, and that payments, returns and supporting documents are submitted on time.   

You need to make sure that you have received your latest IRP5/IT3(a) and other tax certificates like medical aid, retirement annuity fund, and any other third-party data relevant to determining your tax obligations, and that these are correctly reflected on your auto-assessment or return. 

Failing to do so may result in paying more tax than necessary as you might lose on deducting amounts in the determination of your taxable income such as home-office expenses, donations to charities, trade travel expenses, medical expenses paid and contributions to retirement funds and medical schemes. 

Given this responsibility, as well as the deadlines and changes that have been introduced this year, obtaining advice and assistance from your accountant is highly recommended for a successful 2023 Tax Season.

Provisional Taxpayers – your first Tax Season 2024 deadline 

If you are a provisional taxpayer, your first provisional payment for 2023/4 is due by 31 August 2023.

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