Like in previous years, there have always been opening tax season niggles and 2017 has been no different. Patience is a virtue, so the adage goes. And when it comes to waiting for responses from most government departments, they can certainly put your skills of tolerance to the test. Our helpdesk is inundated with questions about how long SARS will take to react or respond to certain requests or submissions. The short answer is ‘typically, quite a while’. You can imagine that during their busy filing season there are hundreds of thousands of documents being processed and not all administration can be automated. To ensure that taxpayers are adequately prepared for how long they can expect to wait for SARS to act on a particular task, we’ve rounded up their guidelines on waiting periods.
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
How Long Will It Take SARS to Finalise My...
Apart from it being a legal obligation to submit your annual tax returns, for many it’s an opportunity to receive a refund from SARS for overpaying on tax during the tax year. SARS has changed things up a bit this year and advised that they have 21 days in which to pay out a refund. Refunds are typically due to incorrect processing of PAYE or as a result of qualifying expenses reducing your tax liability and putting you in ‘credit’ with SARS. Taxpayers have been known to receive their refunds within 2-3 days however, let's hold thumbs!
Request for Correction
Sometimes once you’ve completed and filed your tax return, you remember that you forgot to include a certain income, or claim against an allowable deduction. Knowing how important it is to file an accurate tax return, you decide to resubmit your return with your correction.
This resubmission is called a request for correction, and you have up to 3 years to file a correction on a previously submitted tax return. SARS will process this correction in the same manner as a standard tax return and, if not selected for audit, you can expect an assessment anywhere between a matter of hours to a day or two.
Documents for Review
When you have an expense claim, you need to have documented proof of all these expenses . Often SARS will request to see these documents and ensure you’re given total comprises valid costs. This is more commonly referred to as a verification and in some cases a tax desk audit, and simply means that your return together with your documentation will be physically reviewed by one of SARS’ tax agents to ensure accuracy.
They request these documents by sending you a letter, email and / or SMS asking you to submit your supporting documents. You are obliged to upload these documents within 21 days of the notification being issued. Failing to do so will mean that your deductions will not be calculated. Once submitted you should expect to wait anywhere up to 60 working days for SARS to finalise your tax return.
Notice of Objection
Once an audit or verification has been completed, you’ll receive an assessment, called an ITA34. This document highlights the outcome of your tax return verification showing what income and expenses have been used to calculate your tax liability for the period. Every now and then, you may disagree with SARS result, and perhaps feel that SARS erroneously included or excluded certain amounts that impacted on the final tax amount owed. In these cases, you’re able to lodge a notice of objection, provided you do so within 30 days of receiving your assessment. As per general SARS administration turnaround, you can expect to have a response to your notice of objection within 60 days of being received.
Notice of Appeal
In extreme cases, if SARS still disallows your deduction (after a notice of objection) you can file a notice of appeal. This needs to be submitted within 30 days of receiving your notification of your objection being declined. Again, the general SARS waiting periods apply and an appeal can take up to 60 days to be finalised. There have been cases where this has gone on for 3 months and sometimes a year unfortuntely. So get all your documents in correctly the first time round and then you won't even need to appeal.
As you can see, any administrative matters outside of a general tax return submission may take a long time to resolve - and even then you’re not guaranteed a favourable response. This is why we stress the importance of ensuring your tax return is completed accurately the first time. TaxTim’s unique approach to completing and filing your tax return makes sure that it’s correct and that you’ve claimed for every deduction available for your particular tax profile.
Letter of Completion
This is the good news, receiving one of these means that SARS is all done. They have finished with your documents and should you due to receive a refund, then this will be paid out to you a few days later.