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Top Questions on tax seasons

By now you would have seen the latest announcement by the SARS commissioner to increase the qualifying threshold for certain taxpayers to submit a tax return from R350 000 to R500 000. Along with this news, came some changes to the tax season filing dates and deadlines.

Our help desk has been received many queries about these changes. Since the start of tax season is just around the corner, we thought that this would a good time to share some of these questions (and our expert answers) with you to ensure you remain on the right track.

1. I earned R250 000 from March to August and then I was unemployed for the rest of the tax year. I really need to file a tax return as I am hoping to get a refund from SARS. Does the new R500 000 return threshold communicated by SARS recently mean that I can’t file a return?

Even if you earn below the R500 000 threshold you can still file a tax return. In fact, we suggest taxpayers should always file a return. Please read here for some reasons why this is the case. In your particular situation, since you were not employed for the full 12 months of the year, you do not meet the specific set of conditions set by SARS relating to this filing threshold, which means you SHOULD file a return. In fact, since you worked for less than 12 months of the year, there is a good chance that a refund may be due to you. Please use our Tax refund calculator to see what the refund may be.

2. I am self-employed and my income is less than R500 000 per year. Can I skip filing a return until my income increases?

The return threshold set by SARS only applies to taxpayers who work for an employer (and who meet the other specific criteria). If you are self-employed however, and earn above the tax threshold, which is currently R79 000 for 2020, you would need to file a return.

3. I would like to file my return this year, as this is the first time that I am employed for the entire tax year. The SARS website shows so many dates. Please clarify when I must submit my tax return and what the deadlines are.

It’s best that you always submit a return, even if you were not employed for the entire tax year.Please note, these dates are for salaried (i.e. non-provisional) taxpayers only. If you want to avoid the queues and submit via eFiling or the SARS MobiApp, you can do so from 1st July. If however you earn any other income other than employment or pension income, you may need to register with SARS as a provisional taxpayer, in which case you have from 1st July to 31 January  to submit your tax return via SARS eFiling.

4. I am a non-provisional taxpayer. I have no intention of submitting my return online, as I have no idea how to do it myself, but I am out of the country until 1 November. Can I still file my return in November?

Yes, you can still file your return via eFiling or the SARS MobiApp as the electronic filing deadline. If you require assistance with your online submission, we suggest you register with TaxTim so that we can assist you to complete your tax return accurately and correctly and ensure you are aware of all possible deductions you can claim in order to maximise your potential tax refund. Should you get stuck at any section on your return, you can chat with one of our expert tax practitioners who will be happy to help you. Before you submit your return to SARS, one of our tax practitioners will check it to make sure it makes sense and there are no obvious duplicates or omissions and you have answered all the relevant questions. 

5. I earn less than R500 000 a year and meet all the criteria set by SARS in order to not file a tax return. I do not have my own medical aid, however, I contributed towards my grandmother’s medical aid during the year She is financially dependent on me. Can I still submit these medical costs as I did previously or am I no longer allowed to submit a return because I meet all the criteria set by SARS?

Just to clarify, anyone earning below R500 000 and meeting the criteria is still allowed to submit a return if they wish. In your case however, since your grandmother is financially dependent on you, you may receive a tax deduction for the medical expenses and medical aid that you had to pay for her and therefore you should submit a return (and due to these medical expenses, you do NOT fit SARS qualifying criteria).

6. I earn less than R500 000 per year and I receive a travel allowance. I want to claim my business travel from SARS, as my employer taxes me on the whole amount. Based on this new rule, am I now supposed to claim my tax back from my employer?

Because you receive a travel allowance, the qualifying threshold of R500 000 to submit a return does not apply to you.

Just as a reminder, the threshold applies to you only if you meet ALL of the criteria below:

  • You have worked for a full 12 months for ONE employer only and received an IRP5;
  • You have no additional allowances or deductions to claim such as medical, retirement or donations;
  • You have no travel allowance nor do you make use of a company car;
  • Most importantly, you earned absolutely NO other income during the tax year;
  • You did not make any capital gains greater then R40 000 for the tax year. 



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