Pretoria, 3 September 2012 — The latest service initiative by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to help taxpayers with eFiling went live this morning.
From today, taxpayers who are unsure about how to use eFiling or who get stuck while completing their returns online can make use of the Help-You-eFile service, a new facility which allows them to be in direct contact with a SARS Call Centre agent while they complete their tax return online. With permission from the taxpayer, the facility enables the Call Centre agent to access the taxpayer’s eFiling browsing session at the same time as the taxpayer and to see exactly what the taxpayer is seeing.
This is the first time any revenue service around the world has instituted such a system and SARS is proud to be at the forefront of such technological advancements.
Specially trained Call Centre agents will guide taxpayers through the eFiling steps and talk them through the process to address any difficulties experienced in completing their return. The taxpayer benefits by being able to call on the support and advice of our staff without having to visit a branch.
How does it work?
- When a taxpayer clicks on the Help-You-eFile icon on their eFiling profile they will be prompted to accept the Terms and Conditions. They will then receive a Help-You-eFile session reference number on their eFiling profile.
- The taxpayer will then need to call the SARS contact centre on 0800 00 7277, quoting their reference number to the agent who responds.
- The agent will then launch the Help-You-eFile session and the taxpayer will receive a request asking whether the agent may connect to the session. By sharing the same information on two different computer screens, the taxpayer is allowing the SARS agent to shadow them as they complete the return and even highlight areas on their screen for additional clarity.
For additional security, sensitive security fields such as the taxpayer’s banking details, password and login are not visible to the SARs Contact Centre agents – but all other information is visible. The agent also has view-only access and cannot enter any information on the return but can direct the taxpayer on where to enter information by highlighting fields on the return.
A new tutorial video on how to use Help-You-eFile will be available on the SARS YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/sarstax from later today.
To date SARS has received 2.3 million tax returns since the 2012 Tax Season commenced at the beginning of July. The number of returns submitted by far exceeds SARS’s own expectations – by the same time last year 1.5 million tax returns had been submitted. Currently the average rate of submission per day since 1 July 2012, is over 40 300.
The unintended consequence has been that queues at branches have been much longer than during previous year. Across the country SARS branch staff, on average, assists more than 20 000 taxpayers per day.
Statistics indicate that branches are seeing 55% more taxpayers than the same period last year As a result of the pressure on SARS branches, queuing times are averaging at between 60 and 90 minutes – although once members of the public are with a consultant, it takes only 10-12 minutes to capture returns.
SARS hopes that the new facility to help taxpayers with eFiling will alleviate some of these pressures on branch offices.
eFiling has many advantages for the taxpayer -once registered for eFiling taxpayers can submit returns, view their tax status and make electronic payments to SARS 24 hours a day.
SARS would like to thank all South Africans who have contributed to this positive early response by fulfilling their responsibilities as taxpayers, and would encourage those who have not yet filed to do so soon.
- The deadline for taxpayers who submit their tax returns manually by post or by dropping it off in a SARS drop box, is 28 September 2012.
- The deadline for all taxpayers who submit their returns electronically at a SARS branch is 23 November 2012.
- Non-Provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via eFiling also have until 23 November 2012.
- Provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via eFiling have until 31 January 2013.