Individual Tax

When does tax filing season open?

  • 1 July 2019 for e-filers
  • 1 August for non e-filers

When does tax filing season close?

  • 04 December for e-filers (non-provisional taxpayers)
  • 31 October 2019 for non e-filers (non-provisional taxpayers)
  • 31 January 2020 (provisional taxpayers)

What documents do I need to prepare the tax return?

  • IRP5/IT3(a) employee certificates;
  • IT3(b), (c) and (s) certificates from financial institutions in respect of interest (including medical aid IT3(b));
  • Medical aid tax certificates;
  • Retirement annuity tax certificates;
  • If you declared a lump sum, a copy of the relevant tax directive from your employer or financial institution;
  • Information relating to rental income, capital gain transactions;
  • Travel logbook if travel allowance is provided as a fringe benefit for non-commission earners or when claiming travel expenses as a commission earner.

Since the threshold for submitting tax returns has increased to R500 000, am I required to submit a return even though I earn below the threshold?

  • It depends, if you earn income below R500 000 annually from one employer and you do not have allowable deductions to claim from such earnings, such as travel allowance or expenses, medical aid contributions, retirement annuity fund contributions, etc.
  • However, if you earn income from more than one employer, you have other sources of income (i.e. rental income, interest income, capital gains, etc) and allowable deductions, you have to submit a return even if you earn below the threshold.

What are the odds that SARS suddenly flags all the old tax returns as outstanding, when previously they never reflected as outstanding?

  • You need to maintain an unbroken period in filing tax returns with SARS. Therefore, if you filed your tax return a few years back and then didn’t file for a year or two for some reason (perhaps you were earning below the threshold), SARS will flag these outstanding returns when you eventually file a tax return. If you were earning below the threshold, it is best you file the return for the previous outstanding tax years.

How long does SARS take to process a refund?

  • 7 to 21 business days, provided the following has occurred:
  • The verification of your income tax return has been finalised;
  • There are no outstanding tax returns due for submission;
  • There are no taxes due to SARS; and
  • There are no pending objections.
  • Provided your banking details are valid and have verified by SARS.

Expatriate Tax

How do I know if I am a resident or non-resident when submitting my returns?

  1. As a first step one needs determine if they are tax resident according to South Africa’s two residency tests:
    • Click here to download the Ordinarily Resident test.
    • Click here to download the Physical Presence Test.
  2. If the two tests show that you are tax resident of SA you will need to submit accordingly as a resident – please see below FAQ for Tax Resident submissions.
  3. If the tests show that you are non-tax resident of SA you will need to submit accordingly, as a non-resident – please see below FAQ for non-resident submissions.
  4. Please note the importance of formalising your non-residency in order to mitigate risk around submitting as a non-resident. Click here to learn more about our solutions for South Africans working abroad.

Residents

As a South African resident working abroad, do I have to pay taxes in South Africa with regards to foreign income?

Yes, South Africa uses a residence-based tax system i.e. you are taxed on your worldwide income. You can however claim s10(1)(o)(ii) or foreign tax credits to reduce your tax liability.

What if I’m working for a South African company, do I qualify for foreign income exemption if I render my services outside the Republic?

  • Yes, you will only qualify for the exemption to the extent you meet the criteria as laid out by the Income Tax Act, i.e. the section 10(1)(o)(ii) exemption requires one to be outside of SA for a period exceeding 183 days in aggregate over a 12 month period with 61 consecutive days with in the period.
  • To qualify for a foreign income exemption, your services need to be rendered abroad, regardless of whether the salary is paid from a SA company or rendered for the said company.

In light of the 1 March 2020 if I am below the R1 million threshold, do I still need to declare my foreign income even though it will be fully exempt?

  • Yes, in order to remain compliant with SARS it will be advisable declare this income.
  • Furthermore, it will mitigate any risk around the source of funds, so that this is not questioned at a later date should you be audited by SARS.
  • In addition, should SARS cross reference your accounts using the CRS and determine that your bank reflects amounts not declared on your returns this may bring about questions into tax evasion/ avoidance.

I do not qualify for s10(1)(o)(ii) exemption and I have already paid taxes on that income abroad, will I have to pay taxes twice?

  • It depends. You can utilise s6quat (foreign tax credits) to reduce your South African tax liability.
  • This is done in a manner where the taxes already paid are assessed in comparison with the taxes you would be liable for in SA on that foreign income. Any negative differences (paid less taxes in a foreign country) between the two is then payable in South Africa.

Non-Residents

Do I need to have earned South African source income to submit a tax return?

  • Yes, as South Africa uses the source-based system of taxation for non-residents. i.e. if the money earned is for services rendered in South Africa then the income is seen as originating from the Republic and hence liable for tax on that particular income.

How do I eliminate double taxation on income earned in South Africa?

  • You can utilise Double Tax Agreements between South Africa and the country of residence.
  • You can claim foreign tax credits in your country of residence on the taxes paid in South Africa.

I am a non-resident who ceased working in South Africa and now earning pension and annuity income from a South African pension fund. Where do I pay the taxes relating to the income I am now receiving?

  • Taxes will normally be withheld by SARS, but you need to apply for relief from South African tax for pension and annuities in terms of the Double Taxation Agreement. This can be done by using either the RST01 OR RST02 route.

Do I need a South African bank account when claiming my refunds?

  • It depends, using a South African bank account allows the refund to be processed more efficiently than it would using a foreign bank account as the process takes longer.