Are you the type of person dashing into the store to grab a birthday gift en route to a party? Or perhaps you’ve found yourself scratching through your craft box at 11pm the night before to make a ‘World Book Day’ outfit for your son? Or possibly you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of South Africans who waits until the last week of November to file your tax return?
While I’m not suggesting that every minute of your life needs to be pre-planned and organised, there are certainly a number of benefits to getting your tax done early. Here are a few motivations for you to get it over and done with when tax season opens on 1 July.
How often are we told that stress is bad for our health? Our bodies and minds take strain when we’re under pressure. And there’s nothing like a looming tax return deadline to make you freak out. Much like Mom insisting you ate your veggies first (you know – to get the ‘yucky’ stuff out of the way), it’s advisable to tackle tedious tasks upfront. This eliminates the stress factor and allows you to relax a bit. If you complete and file your tax return as season opens, it’s off your plate and you can focus on more exciting things.
Unless you’re one of the few who needn’t worry about the state of your bank balance, I’ll bet you’ve become more and more aware of where and how you’re spending money these days. With the cost of living escalating faster than our wallets can keep up, the last thing you want to do is throw good money after bad, paying unnecessary penalties and / or interest on your taxes. SARS has become exceptionally strict and they’re quick to apply penalties on late submissions (even by just a day!) so if you’re pushing on deadline, you’re taking a risk. My Grandfather always said, “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”. Even if the penalty or interest doesn’t amount to all that much, it’s still ‘pennies’ that could be spent elsewhere.
Not to be a pessimist, but as much as we love and rely on the Internet and technology, the reality is that there are times when our service providers or systems let us down. And it’s typically at the worst possible moment! Can you imagine rushing to get your taxes in just before the seasons closes and suddenly you run out of data, or your Internet provider goes down, or your computer crashes, or your dog eats your smartphone? Ok the last one is a bit of a stretch, but hey, you never know! The point is that if you’re not leaving yourself with some breathing room for unforeseen technical (or canine) crises then you risk the chance of having to wait for issues to be resolved and potentially miss the deadline as a result. Filing your tax return early in season simply means that you needn’t stress about these unexpected malfunctions.
Who’s going to say “no thanks” to a refund from SARS in the middle of the year? No-one I know, for sure. It’s like Christmas in July! At the beginning of the tax season, SARS are far quicker to process payments. If your assessment comes up in your favour and you’re due a refund, it usually lands in your bank account within 2 – 3 days of completion. (Do remember that this may include an audit period – which should also go much quicker at the start of tax season when SARS officials aren’t as swamped with documents.)
Something else to consider about refunds is that they’re based on the amount of tax you’ve overpaid after all your applicable deductions have been applied. If you’re in a rush to complete your tax return and just get it done, you may very well overlook potential (lucrative) opportunities to reduce your tax. Starting earlier means that you’ll be able to take your time to work through your tax return and ensure you haven’t missed out on a chance to get some of your money back from the taxman.
Thanks to its seasonality, income tax return time for tax practitioners is like summer for an ice-cream seller. It’s busy and they’re in high demand! Even if you hand in your tax documents early, it doesn’t mean to say that your practitioner is going to be able to complete your tax that very same day, week – perhaps even month, but naturally the sooner you’re able to get your information in the better. If you leave your tax return too close to the deadline, you’ll be hard pressed to find a practitioner that doesn’t have a booked up diary and you may even land up paying premium rates for a rush job.
Completing your tax return in general isn’t the most pleasant of activities, but if you’re proactive about it and get it done and dusted early, you won’t have to worry about it for another 365 days!
Being an early bird has other rewards too. Purchase your TaxTim voucher now and take advantage of our out-of-tax-season discount rates.