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27 November 2012 – Preliminary Outcomes of the 2012 Tax Season-more than 5.6 million tax returns submitted

27 November 2012 – Preliminary Outcomes of the 2012 Tax Season-more than 5.6 million tax returns submitted

More than 5.6 million tax returns submitted


  • 5.66 million returns submitted for 2012 – 16.4% increase from 2011
  • 1.4 million outstanding returns from previous years submitted
  • 99.86% of returns submitted electronically
  • 93% of returns assessed within 3 seconds
  • 99.58% of returns assessed within 24 hours
  • 94.5% of refunds paid within 72 hours
  • 646 559 new taxpayers registered and submitted a return for the first time

Pretoria, 27 November 2012 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has again recorded phenomenal growth in levels of tax compliance with a new record of 5.66 million income tax returns submitted during this year’s Tax Season.

The total number of returns received by 23 November 2012 (5.66 million) is 16.4% higher than the previous year.

The total includes 4.214 million returns from individuals for the 2012 tax year – an increase of 14.3% compared to 3.688 million in 2011.

In addition SARS received 1.4 million outstanding returns from previous years which is 25% (275 000) higher than the 1.09 million outstanding returns submitted by the 2011 deadline. This is a very encouraging indicator that the administrative penalties that SARS impose for outstanding returns are having the desired effect of improving levels of compliance.

The annual Tax Season represents one of the biggest, direct engagements between a public institution of the South African Government and a growing body of millions of economically active citizens. It also serves as a key determinant of the levels of compliance amongst ordinary citizens with the laws of the country.
Commenting on the results of the tax filing season, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said: “The level of tax compliance we have achieved in South Africa is unprecedented among developing countries, but also some developed nations. We are highly appreciative of the excellent cooperation that fellow citizens have given SARS, which is demonstrated by the rising levels of tax compliance and the greater timeliness with which taxpayers are submitting their returns.”
“As a contribution to our economy and household incomes, nearly 400 000 more individuals received refunds this year than in 2011,” Minister Gordhan said.
SARS wants to thank all taxpayers for the remarkable response to the 2012 Tax Season with 86.05% of returns filed on-time, nearly 3% higher than the 83.16% in 2011.

Six years into the modernisation journey of the income tax system the migration from paper or manual returns to electronic submission – via eFiling or at a SARS branch office – is almost absolute with 99.86% of all returns submitted electronically (98.74% in 2011). Only 5 529 manual returns were submitted this year compared to 32 071 in 2011 and 123 674 in 2010.

In addition, SARS assisted many millions of taxpayers at branch offices to submit 2.59 million returns electronically, an increase of 25.7% compared to 2011. Returns submitted on eFiling by taxpayers themselves totalled 3.08 million, 11.2% higher than in 2011.

The adoption of electronic submission has enabled SARS to further improve its turnaround times with 99.58% of returns assessed in 24 hours – in 2011 it was 98.36% – demonstrating the huge benefits of the increased use of technology and automation and the value of the modernisation programme that SARS had introduced.

This year 93% of all returns submitted were assessed within 3 seconds!

Some 646 559 new taxpayers registered and filed their tax returns for the first time in 2012.

Faster turn-around times in assessing returns have enabled SARS to pay income tax refunds much quicker. Refunds of R14.55 billion were paid in 2012 which is 14.8% or R1.87 billion higher than the 2011 figure of R12.68 billion.

This year SARS paid 94.5% of all refunds within 72 hours compared to 85.44% in 2011. The average refund per taxpayer amounts to R6 272 compared to approximately R6 600 in 2011.

Nearly 400 000 more individuals received refunds this year than in 2011. This is a direct contribution to our economy and household incomes.
Payments from taxpayers this year amounted to R3.69 billion which is R236 million (6.9%) more than the R3.45 billion paid in 2011.

Along with improving service, convenience and ease of submission, an increase in enforcement has also contributed to higher compliance levels. This year SARS issued 5.2 million penalty notices to approximately 486 000 taxpayers with outstanding returns from previous years.

Such punitive measures are necessary to ensure fairness between the growing body of compliant taxpayers who submitted 5.66 million by this year’s deadline and those who remain non-compliant.

SARS wants to urge taxpayers who have not yet submitted a return – for any tax year – to submit these as soon as possible to limit or avoid further administrative penalties, starting at R250-00 per month, from being imposed or from escalating further.

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