Tax Season 2018: Preliminary Results

Pretoria, 1 November 2018 – The South African Revenue Service received 5.785 million returns by Wednesday, 31 October 2018, which marked the close of tax season for non-provisional taxpayers.  
These returns comprise the following:
  • 4. 229 million returns by individual taxpayers (returns relevant to the current year)
  • 1. 459 million returns by individual taxpayers filed during this Tax Season but relevant to prior years)
  • 42 087 returns filed by trusts (returns relevant to the current year)
  • 53 973 returns filed by trusts (returns filed during this Tax Season but relevant to prior years)
The number of submissions received this year marks a 2.1% increase from the previous year’s submissions which totalled at 5.665 million returns.  This is despite a shorter filing season.
A total 96.1% of expected returns from individuals were submitted on time, exceeding last year’s rate of 94%. The returns expected are informed by last year’s submissions and IRP5 information from employers, excluding provisional taxpayers.
“We want to thank taxpayers who filed, for doing the right thing and making their contribution to our country.  Our data shows that taxpayers adapted to the shorter filing season and that filing patterns remained steady and on par.” said Acting Commissioner, Mark Kingon.
“For SARS, Tax Season 2018 was about enhancing service and operational excellence, and working smarter.  This is what we will strive to do each year,” he said.
Preliminary Results for Tax Season 2018:
  • Refunds:
    • R17.9 Billion paid to more than 2 million individual taxpayers
    • A total of 96.88% of taxpayers due for a refund that was not routed for audit or risk verification received their refund within the 7 day turnaround time as stated in the SARS Service Charter.
  • Assessment of returns:
    • A total of 87.02% of tax returns were assessed within 3 seconds, and 91.18% within 24 hours. 
  • Electronic channels
    • 52.07% (2017: 50.08%) of returns filed was done through SARS eFiling compared to 47.93% filed at a branch.  This shows a 2% increase in the uptake of eFiling
    • 241 583 taxpayers used Help-You-eFile service. This shows a 14% increase in the uptake of this service compared to last year
    • 73 663 taxpayers used the SARS Mobi App to file returns. This shows a 54.74% increase in the uptake of this channel 
Service and operational enhancements during Tax Season 2018: 
Additional resources
SARS employed a total of 445 temporary workers to assist with the increased numbers during Tax Season. A total of 23 Mobile Tax Units (MTU) provided taxpayer services to outlying areas and captured in excess of 95 000 returns.
Increased Communication ahead of Tax Season
SARS communicated earlier about taxpayer filing requirements and opted for direct and personalised communication with taxpayers in June – a month before Tax Season started.  Tax Season was also launched to the Media on 04 June and officially opened on 01 July. 
Personal Income Tax (PIT) filing confirmation
An App was introduced at SARS branches during Tax Season 2018. The App assisted branch agents to help taxpayers determine whether or not they needed to file a return before joining the queue. This initiative also helped SARS branches to reduce foot traffic thus maximising resource usage. By 30 October 2018, a total of 422 187 determinations had been made through the App and resulted in a total of 222 037 taxpayers not required to file.
Self-help Kiosks
This year SARS rolled out self-help kiosks at the East London, George, Pretoria and Randburg branches.  These kiosks allow taxpayers access to SARS eFiling, major banks and the SARS website, where they can register for eFiling, submit returns and upload supporting documents.   This is part of SARS’ strategy to assist taxpayers to become comfortable and self-proficient in eFiling.
Extended Operating hours
During October, the last month of Tax Season, the SARS contact centre and all 53 SARS branches extended operating hours to Saturdays.  Approximately, 63 000 taxpayers were assisted. Last year only 21 branches operated on Saturdays during the last month. The Contact Centre extended business hours to 6pm during the week in October.
Activities on the last day of Tax Season: 31 October
In total of 235 518 returns were filed on the deadline-day with 67% of these submitted via SARS eFiling. 
  • A total of 79 692 taxpayers were assisted in branches on 31 October.
  • Branches experienced exceptionally high volumes at branches, with the Alberton branch issuing its first taxpayer a ticket at 04h50.
  • The Bellville and Richards Bay branches opened their doors before 06h00. A total of 29 other branches and one mobile tax unit started serving taxpayers before 07h00.
  • Fourteen branches had assisted taxpayers after 20h00 last night, with the last taxpayer assisted at 22h21.
  • The SARS Contact Centre received 85 046 calls between 07h30 and 20h54 on the last day
  • The normal operating hours at branches run from 08h00 to 16h00, and for the Contact Centre run from 08h00 to 17h00.
Provisional taxpayers have until 31 January 2019 to file their tax returns via eFiling.
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