Welcome to 2013! It seems a little cruel that each year the festive season is followed so closely by a number of imposing tax return deadlines. No sooner than you have ended your holiday, you are faced with these sobering reminders that bring you back to reality.

In the first blog of the year, I will be looking at tax returns in general and provide a few useful tips. If you are new on the scene and were excited at the chance of filing a tax return to receive some of your money back from SARS, there is disappointment heading your way. What often people refer to as a tax return is actually a tax refund and is generally after you have over estimated your tax payment. So the tax return we will look at, while far less exciting, is a necessity to declare your taxable income.

What is a tax return?

Generally speaking, a tax return is the submission of a SARS document that determines a tax liability. There are a number of different tax returns including income tax, corporate income tax, turnover tax and many more. We will focus on the more common income tax return.

Who should file an income tax return?

SARS requires all individuals earning any form of income to register for income tax to ensure better tax compliancy across South Africa. However in most cases you only need to submit a tax return if you earn above R120 000 per year, although certain conditions do apply.

Can I submit an income tax return myself?

Submitting your tax return used to involve visiting a SARS branch but with the introduction of eFiling from SARS, the submission of tax returns has been made easier and can be completed electronically. The process can be fairly simple and work well if you follow the tips below:

  • Stay abreast of changes in tax regulation
  • Always be aware of the tax deadlines and when you need to submit tax returns
  • Once submitted, keep an eye on the status of your tax assessment as you will need to act on the assessment within the prescribed deadlines
  • When you have received your assessment, check that your income tax payable or tax refund matches what you calculated

Contacting a professional tax consultant can however offer various benefits:

  • A tax professional can be a valuable asset if you are self-employed or running your own business. There are specific items pertaining to your work that you can and cannot claim for
  • Peace of mind: Know that your tax returns are completed correctly as well as on time and that someone is managing any correspondence with SARS professionally
  • If you earn a foreign income, it is recommended you contact a tax professional to assist you in the correct completion of a tax return
  • Completing a tax return taking into account capital gains and losses would be an otherwise complicated procedure without a tax consultant
  • Claiming correct expenditure for business trade and professional income

I hope this has provided some insight into tax returns and what to take note of when completing your own.

Should you need a tax professional for your tax returns, contact Brett at Dirmeik Consulting on 021 421 4444.