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FAQS: SARS eFiling

Filing a tax return for the first time can be a daunting task. To get you started, we’ve gone back to the basics – hopefully the FAQ below will help clarify some simple tax questions you may have and also assist you to navigate around SARS eFiling.

1. What does a tax reference number look like?

A South African Income Tax reference number is 10 numeric digits long. The tax reference number can only start with 0, 1, 2, 3 or 9 e.g. 0123456789. It will appear on your IRP5.

2. How do I get a tax reference number?

SARS have recently introduced a new online process whereby taxpayers can register for a SARS eFiling profile and request a tax number at the same time. Please refer to our blog here for further guidance.

3. What is an IRP5?

An IRP5 is the employee's tax certificate that is issued at the end of each tax year by the employer to SARS. A copy must also be given to the employee. It details the employee’s incomes, deductions and related taxes (PAYE, UIF and SDL) for the tax year. It is used by the employee to complete his/her income tax return for a specific tax year. If the employer has submitted one for you, it should appear in SARS eFiling when you log into your profile.

4. How do I find out if I am registered for eFiling? I tried to register before, but I can’t recall if it was successful.

You can call SARS on 0800 007 277 to check with them. Alternatively, you can try to register a new SARS eFiling profile. If it’s successful, then your previous registration was probably unsuccessful. If you are blocked from registering a new profile, you can request your eFiling login details from the eFiling site by following these steps. If you need help registering for eFiling, please refer to our step-by-step guide here.

5. How do I register for SARS eFiling?

Please follow our step-by-step instructions here.

6. What is a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) number and is it the same as a tax reference number?

No, they are not the same. The PAYE reference number is for an employer who deducts and pays PAYE (i.e. employee's tax) to SARS on behalf of its employees. The PAYE number is a 10-digit number, which starts with a 7 and will appear on your IRP5. The tax reference number is for your personal income tax. It will also appear on your IRP5 and will start with 0,1,2,3 or 9.

7. How do I update my physical address with SARS?

You can update your address on SARS eFiling by clicking on Home, SARS Registered Details, Maintain SARS Registered Details and then you can go ahead and make the changes on the online form. You must remember to click ‘save’ and ‘file’ in order for the changes to be sent to SARS.

8. I have a new bank account. How do I update my bank details with SARS?

You can do this online via your SARS eFiling profile - please refer to our step-by-step guide for assistance.

If you are unable to do this online, you can take all your documents to a SARS branch and a consultant should be able to update your records for you.  Read our blog for details of the documents you will need. Be sure to call ahead (SARS: 0800 007 277) to check Covid-19 protocols at the branch.

9. My address on my IRP5 is old - will this be a problem when I submit my return?

No, it should not be an issue. You can update your address on your tax return as well as the ‘Maintain SARS Registered Details’ section of eFiling (see question 7).

10. I do not have a local South African bank account. Can I file a tax return with only a foreign bank account?

Yes, you are still able to file a South African tax return.  There is however, an additional step that you have to take. Please send the following documents to as SARS pays tax refunds through EFT and no longer issues cheques to overseas taxpayers. Include or attach the following information in your email:

  • Request for refund
  • Income Tax reference number
  • Residential address of the taxpayer
  • Proof of residential address (one page only)
  • Copy of taxpayer’s ID or passport
  • Country of taxpayer’s overseas bank account
  • Bank name
  • Physical address of the bank
  • Swift address or BIC code
  • Town name or sorting code of the bank’s branch
  • Branch clearing code
  • Account number
  • IBAN number (for UAE, UK, and European countries)
  • Beneficiary account currency
  • Copy of bank statement (one page only)

FOR PAYMENT TO ALL ASIAN COUNTRIES: Also submit a letter of confirmation from the bank stating that it will accept payment from the Republic of South Africa.

11. I have always used an accountant to file my tax returns. How do I get back control of my profile?

You can log into your eFiling account and follow our step-by-step guide.

12. What is the tax directive number at the bottom of my IRP5?

A tax directive number is an instruction that SARS gives to your employer or fund to either withhold a certain amount of tax or not deduct tax on the earnings you received. You will usually have this number on your IRP5 if you received a lump sum, earned commission or if your employer paid you a share option.

13. What does source codes 3601 and 3605 mean? It’s on my IRP5 but I can’t remember receiving this from my employer.

Source code 3601 – this is income or salary paid by your employer to you. You need to divide it by the number of months that you worked at the company for the tax year to arrive at your monthly salary The amount should make sense now - if it doesn’t, please check this with your payroll administrator.

Source code 3605 – this is an annual payment (bonus and leave paid by an employer).

We have created a detailed blog explaining the rest of the source codes on your IRP5.

14. I have just registered a new company. I have no idea what to do with tax - please help, where do I start?

When you registered your company with CIPC, it would have been registered with SARS at the same time for corporate tax. If you don’t have the tax number, you could go to this link on SARS website and give your company registration details and they should be able to give you its tax number. You then need to register a SARS eFiling profile so that you can file tax return. Please refer to our step-by-step guide here.   If your company has started trading, you need to keep records of your income and expenses; this should make things easier when you need to file your returns. You need to submit three returns for your company per year: one annual return (ITR14), which is due 12 months after your business’s financial year-end and 2 provisional returns (IRP6). The first provisional return is due six months after your financial year started and the second is due at the end of the financial year

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