When did this happen?
Previously, assuming that SARS did not request any documents for verification and everything for the year was accepted, refunds due were typically paid out quite quickly to taxpayers within 1-2 days.
From 2015, SARS has implemented a new requirement that ALL tax returns, since the first year a taxpayer registered for a tax reference number, must be submitted before any refund is paid out.
Why does this happen?
Often taxpayers are unaware that they even had outstanding tax returns. Reasons include:
1) They previously earned below the tax / submission threshold
In the past SARS has stated that taxpayers do not need to file a tax return if they 1) earned below the minimum taxable threshold for that year, or 2) they only received one IRP5 from one employer with no deductions at all (just a salary) where this amount was less than R120 000 (up to 2012) or R250 000 (up to 2014). Since you may now be earning above one of these thresholds and have to file, SARS wants to know why you are only declaring your income on a tax return now, and what has happened previously (because they have no tax return records for you).
2) Their employer registered for them
Sometimes taxpayers who earned very small amounts had their employer register them without even knowing that this was the case. Often this happens to students who tutored at university, or waiters and other informal workers. Since SARS has initial tax records for you, but nothing since then, they want to know what happened in the interim. In this case filing old tax returns may even reveal an old tax refund waiting to be received.
What to do about it
TaxTim always advises taxpayers to submit a tax return every year, so that there aren’t any unexpected complications or unwelcome delays in getting your tax refund. See this article for more reasons to file.
Taxpayers are able to check if they have any outstanding tax returns by the following methods:
Outstanding tax returns can be submitted quickly and easily via TaxTim. Get started here.
If you need to submit old tax returns and SARS then requests supporting documents which you no longer have or cannot get, then read our post about What to do if I need to submit old returns to SARS and I don't have documents anymore?