Tax Season for individuals has come again.  It is time once more to pull together your records, crunch the numbers and electronically submit.

In simple cases, a good case can be made for taxpayers submitting their own returns.  The SARS e-filing system is top of class internationally.  We at SAIT are now publishing a IT12 tax return issue for the first time in our July/August 2017 Tax Talk magazine to provide users with a handy quick reference guide for those who prefer to avoid the legal language of SARS publications.  Taxpayers can also seek the aid of commercial electronic tax systems to supplement their efforts.  These systems translate tax speak into plain English and provide informal practice tips so as to avoid unintended mishaps.

That said, there is much to be said for seeking professional tax advice once returns become more complicated.  It is one thing to submit returns when you are an employee with a pension plan and a small amount of savings.  It is quite another to place yourself at risk once you are running a small business, have complex investments or have a family estate to preserve.  Tax laws are complex; good record keeping is essential, and mathematical errors are easy to make.  It is important to ask yourself whether you can really defend your return once submitted.  SARS is asking more questions.  You best be prepared to respond quickly before things spiral out of control.

When seeking a tax advisor, you should ensure that the advisor is a tax practitioner registered with SARS via a recognized controlling body (see section 240 of the Tax Administration Act).  While we at SAIT are the only recognized controlling body dedicated solely to tax, we note that there are other professional bodies to choose from.  Only a registered tax practitioner can sign a return and officially act on your behalf.  Other self-professed tax preparers will ask you to sign your own return, meaning that you bear the full risk of their potential mistakes.  Without a tax practitioner signature, nothing stands between you and SARS in terms of penalties and other costs should you find yourself liable.

In short, submit your returns accurately and on-time so you can sleep well at night without fear of unexpected audits and challenges.  The paper filing due date is xx, the electronic filing due date is xx and please don’t forget about the obligation to file provisional (i.e. six monthly) returns for amounts not subject to third party withholding.   We wish you well.