Owing SARS Money

What’s new?

22 August 2023 – How will SARS debt outsourcing work?

SARS will outsource overdue debt that is older than five years to external third-party debt collectors from October 2023. The debt collectors will assist with overdue accounts where no active payment or attempts to make payment arrangements have been made. A list of debt collectors will published soon on this webpage.

Prior to this intervention, SARS is starting to notify the affected taxpayers of its intention to hand them over while affording them the opportunity to regularise their tax affairs. See the frequently asked questions that may help you in this process. Also see an example of the notice being sent here. 

Legal implication of not paying debt

Kindly note that it is a criminal offence to submit a return without making the necessary payment in terms of Section 234(2)(d) read with subsection (k) of the Tax Administration Act (TAA).

It is a criminal offence for a person to wilfully and without just cause to fail or neglects to withhold and pay to SARS an amount of tax as and when required under a tax Act as per section 234(2)(k) of the TAA.

How do I contact SARS with my debt query?

Taxpayers can now request Account related queries (balance statements) and/or a Statement of Account by sending an SMS to SARS on 47277. Send the following wording to 47277: Balance (Space) ID number/Passport number/ Asylum Seeker number

These services can be accessed with or without data/airtime. For more detail, see the Guide to SARS Mobile Tax Services.

Contact us:

  • Call our SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277 between 09:00 to 16:30
  • International Callers may contact our SARS Contact Centre on +27 11 602 2093 between 09:00 to 16:30 South African local time
  • Email deferred arrangements, debt queries, payment requests and correspondence to [email protected].
  • Email business rescues and compromises in terms of section 155 of the Companies Act correspondence or notices to [email protected].

Taxpayers, both individuals and businesses, are required to be fully tax compliant through on time submission of returns and payments.  In instances where taxpayers are not compliant and have outstanding tax debt the Debt Management department is committed to assisting businesses and individuals to become fully compliant.  SARS wants to assist you to manage your tax debt. Reach out to SARS and ensure that you comply with your tax obligations. See more information on how to manage your debt.

Options available to service your debt

  1. Pay full balance outstanding within seven days
  2. Request with reason and proof to pay in instalments ITO of section 167 of TAA
  3. Request with reasons and proof to compromise the debt ITO of s200/201/202 of the TAA
  4. Where debt is disputed/theres an intention to dispute apply for the suspension of debt in terms of  s164 of the TAA

How much do I owe?

There are five ways to find out how much tax debt you owe:

  • Log on to eFiling and request a statement of account.

  • Log on to the SARS MobiApp and request a statement of account.

  • Request a balance statement and/or statement of account for Personal Income Tax by sending an SMS to SARS on 47277.  (This service can be accessed with or without data/airtime.)

  • SARS USSD Channel by typing, on your mobile device, a string of characters which comprises of an asterisk (*), followed by a few digits and ending with a hashtag (#) and dialling.  Balance (Space) ID number/Passport number/ Asylum Seeker number
    Steps on how to request tax services via the SARS USSD Channel
    • Step 1:  Initiate USSD by dialing *134*7277#
    • Step 2:  Select the service you require
    • Step 3:  Taxpayer Verification – SARS will request you to complete either your,ID/Passport/Asylum Number
    • Step 4:  Tax Resolution – Upon successful verification by SARS, a responce will be displayed
  • Call the SARS Contact Centre.

Steps to follow:

    • Call the SARS Contact Centre and request a statement of account.
    • You will be requested to provide your tax reference number.
    • If you do not have your tax reference number you can provide the SARS Contact Centre Agent with your ID number or the business registration number.
    • Please note the SARS Contact Centre Agent will follow an authentication process.

How do I make a payment?

For more information on payment options, please click here.

What if I can’t pay the full amount now?

In order to avoid penalties and interest it is best to file returns and make payments on time.

If you are not currently able to pay your tax debt, please contact SARS without delay.
In certain circumstances we can reach an agreement with you to defer your tax debt for later payment or for payment by instalments.

Please note the following:

  • SARS has the option to decline the request.
  • Interest will accrue on any unpaid debt.
  • If you don’t adhere to the conditions of the payment arrangement the payment agreement will be terminated and normal collection proceedings will resume.

In certain circumstances a compromise may be requested on your outstanding tax debt. You will need to discuss your financial position openly with SARS.

If you require payment arrangements please contact us and we will assist you and provide you with all relevant documentation.

For more information on how to contact us please click here.

How do I make payment arrangements?

Do you have outstanding tax debt and are unable to settle the amount in one payment?

SARS provides for a deferment of payment arrangement, or instalment payment arrangement for outstanding tax debt. You may request and enter into an instalment payment arrangement with SARS. It allows you to pay your outstanding debt in one sum or in instalments over time until you have paid your entire debt including applicable interest. This agreement however would be subject to certain qualifying criteria.

A payment arrangement may be requested through:

  • SARS eFiling:
    • To see the steps on how to make payment arrangements on eFiling, click here.
    • Payment arrangement can be made once the debt is outstanding;
  • Call our SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277 between 09:00 to 16:30
  • International Callers may contact our SARS Contact Centre on +27 11 602 2093 between 09:00 to 16:30 South African local time
  • Email deferred arrangements, debt queries, payment requests and correspondence to [email protected].

Criteria for payment arrangements

SARS may enter into a payment agreement only if:

  • The taxpayer suffers from a lack of assets or liquidity which is reasonably certain to be remedied in the future;
  • The taxpayer anticipates income or other receipts which can be used to satisfy the tax debt;
  • Prospects of immediate collection activity are poor or uneconomical but are likely to improve in the future;
  • Collection activity would be harsh in the particular case and the deferral or instalment agreement is unlikely to prejudice tax collection;
  • The taxpayer provides the security as may be required;
  • All outstanding returns and/or recons are submitted.

Tip 1: The payment arrangement must cover the entire debt and SARS may only consider the payment arrangement request when non-compliance has been remedied (i.e. all returns and/or recons are submitted).

Tip 2: If the taxpayer has defaulted on previous payment arrangement, reasonable and valid reasons for the default must be provided before another deferment request can be requested.

What if I don’t agree with the debt?

If you are not in agreement with your tax debt, you may lodge a dispute.
To lodge a dispute please go to objections and appeals.
Even though you are disputing the tax debt you remain under obligation to pay the debt whilst your dispute is being handled.

Application for suspension of payment may be requested while the dispute is being dealt with. 

Interest will accrue on any unpaid debt.

Call the contact centre or visit your nearest branch for assistance.  Remember  to make an appointment.

For more information on how to contact us please click here.

What if I don’t pay my taxes?

It is a criminal offense not to submit a tax return when it is due, and can be a criminal offense not to pay.

If you don’t pay your taxes there are a number of debt collection options at our disposal:

  • Collect the debt from someone who holds money on your behalf Third Party appointments i.e. employer, bank or customer.
  • Issue a judgement and have your name blacklisted.
  • Attach and sell your assets.
  • Obtain a preservation order in respect of your assets.
  • If you hold assets off-shore, an order can be obtained compelling the assets to be repatriated to South Africa and in the interim your right to trade or to travel can be restrained.
  • Liquidate or Sequestrate your Estate 

If you are having difficulties we encourage you to contact us to avoid these collection steps.

Cost of non-compliance or failure to pay

If after all the collection efforts have not been honoured, SARS will institute enforcement collection actions as follows:

  • Collect the money against any third party in terms of  section 179 the TAA
  • Issue a Civil Judgement Court against the taxpayer
  • Attach the assets of the taxpayer
  • Hold the directors/members/related parties liable for the debt
  • Sequestrate/liquidate the taxpayer
  • Preserve the assets against the debt

For more information on how to contact us please click here


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