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How does the Tax Calculation work

Auto Assessment – we do the filing for you

What’s New?

  • 8 – 13 February 2021 – SMS to taxpayers who have not responded to their auto-assessments yet:

    • Dear ABC MAKEKE 091XXXXXXX, during the 2020 Filing Season, you were selected to participate in SARS Auto-Assessment initiative. We notice that you have not yet elected to accept SARS auto assessment or file your tax return for the 2020 tax year. You still have an opportunity to do so until SARS makes an estimated assessment. We urge you to make use of this opportunity. Should you not do so, SARS will be making an estimated assessment, based on the data at our disposal, on 19 February 2021. Should you file a return after this date, you would be subject to a penalty for the late submission of your return. Regards, SARS
  • 17 November 2020 – 7 November 2020 – Please note that the opportunity to file your personal income tax return across the counter at any of the SARS Branches closed on Thursday 22 October. Electronic submissions for non-provisional taxpayers closed on 16 November 2020.
During August, we have assessed a significant number of taxpayers automatically. If you accept the outcome, you do not have to complete a return because we would have done that for you.
If you are auto-assessed, you will be notified per SMS in August – so there will be no need for you to call us or visit a branch. The SMS will direct you to eFiling or the SARS MobiApp to either “Accept” or “Edit” the return.
Some taxpayers may receive communication prior to 1 August 2020 indicating why they will not be auto-assessed, or alerting them to their 2019 return submission findings. This will assist them to submit the outstanding returns. Please adhere to the communication and submit any outstanding returns as soon as possible, to avoid delays in filing your 2020 return, and to ensure a seamless experience this year.
If you are not registered for eFiling or you would like to download the SARS MobiApp, watch our helpful tutorial videos on the SARS YouTube channel e.g. ‘How to register for eFiling’ video, or ’How to register on the SARS MobiApp’ video. 
If you have received a SMS from SARS, watch the easy steps in our videos on how to accept the auto assessment:
  • eFiling.
  • MobiApp.
We auto-assess based on the data we receive from employers, financial institutions, medical schemes, retirement annuity fund administrators and other 3rd party data providers.
If you accept the results of your auto-assessment and if there is a refund due to you, the refund will be paid by SARS.

If you owe SARS money, you can make a payment on eFiling, via EFT or the SARS MobiApp by the specified due date on your Notice of Assessment. See our 2020 Filing season webpage for more information.

See our frequently asked questions below for more information:

Q: Question – I’ve received this SMS from SARS, what should I do?
SMS: Tax Ref: ******9201. Your 2020 Year of Assessment tax calculated results is -R0.89, based on the information at SARS disposal. You can accept or edit your return through the SARS digital channels. Failure to do so may result in SARS raising an estimate assessment. For more info, visit the SARS website on How does the Tax Calculation work.

A: Go to, click on the “eFiling login” and follow the easy steps below to accept or edit your Auto-assessment.

Q: ​After receiving the Auto-Assessment SMS from SARS, when I login to eFiling, what do I do?

A: Click on the left menu on “Return Issued”, then “Personal Income Tax (ITR12)”, then on the top right, click on “Request Return” for the year 2020. A pop-up message will be displayed informing you of the auto assessment results. Click “Continue” to view the results and summary of the underlying data used for the auto assessment.

Q: On my Auto-Assessment screen, I have a source code 4029 with the description Retirement Fund. I don’t have a Retirement Fund, why is it displayed?

A: The source code 4029 with the description Retirement Fund takes into account contributions for (i.e. Retirement Annuity Fund/Pension Fund/Provident Fund). So if you have a Pension fund, and not a Retirement Annuity Fund for example, it’s the correct code.

Q: On my IRP5 my pension contribution shows R375 000, but on the Auto-Assessment, it shows R350 000. Why is there a difference in the amounts?

A: Retirement Fund contributions are capped at R350 000, so even if your contribution was more, it will remain R350 000 on the Auto-Assessment.

Q: ​I don’t see my Medical Deductions on the Auto assessment?

A: Medical aid contributions and additional medical aid expenses are included on Rebate under Tax Calculated.

Q: ​If I agree with Auto-assessment, what should I do?

A: If you agree with the details of the auto assessment; click the “Accept” button. A confirmation message will be displayed, click on “Confirm” to complete the auto assessment process. If you accept the proposed auto assessment results, SARS will automatically submit a tax return on your behalf, and issue a notice of assessment (ITA34). To access the ITA34, click on the “View Assessment” tab on the eFiling Menu.

Q: ​What if I disagree with the auto assessment results or the information used by SARS?

A: Click on the “Edit Return” button to amend the return. SARS will provide you with a prepopulated return that you can edit and submit. Once you are satisfied with the information declared, click on the “submit” button. SARS will process the return and issue the Notice of Assessment.

Q: ​If I update my bank details on eFiling, how long does it take to reflect, and how long before the refund is paid if one is due?

A: If all the required supporting documents is sufficient and the request passed the verification we do with the bank it should update immediately. See the refund FAQ below.

Q: ​How long will it take to receive my refund if it showed an amount due to me (minus sign next to the amount) after I’ve accepted it?

A: For the majority of taxpayers, three working days (72 working hours).

Q: ​I didn’t receive an auto-assessment SMS but see my return is available on eFiling or should I wait for 1 September?

A: You may file now, no need to wait for 1 September. See our 2020 Filing Season webpage for the deadlines.

Q: What is the timeframe to accept auto assessment?

A: You have time to accept the auto assessment until 16 November 2020. An estimated assessment will only be issued after 29 January 2021.

Q: Why are the amounts between the SMS and SIM01 different?

A: The amounts on the SMS were based on 3rd party data available at that time when the tax return was pre-populated.  Therefore, taxpayers must check their return and edit it where required. They should verify that all the information that has been pre-populated is correct and add any additional information that may be required. Additional information will be required to be uploaded as supporting documents.

Q: ​I received this error message after editing my auto assessment? Error message:Filing confirmation – Your ITR12 could not be processed. Please consult with a SARS officer.’ 

A: This message may appear on the iPad app when the taxpayer has already begun editing the return on another channel i.e. eFiling or MobiApp or when the auto assessment has been rejected on an iPad. When you receive this error, call 0800 00 7277 or make an appointment to see a Branch agent.

Q: ​What does this error message mean? ‘We could not display your  calculation. 4482 – IRP5 L/S AMOUNT MISSING.’

A: This issue was fixed, please try again.

Q: ​ ​I’ve received an SMS from SARS with a negative amount, does this mean I owe SARS money?

A: No, a negative amount indicates that a refund is due to you.

Q: ​ What happens if I do NOT get an SMS?

A: Taxpayers can file right now. Taxpayers who file online via eFiling or the SARS MobiApp must file on or before 16 November 2020. Taxpayers who cannot file electronically can file at selected branches from 1 September – 22 October by appointment only.

Q: ​ ​Can I walk into a branch?

A: No walk-ins without an appointment.
You can access our digital services or alternatively alternatively make an appointment to visit a branch.

Q: ​ ​What does the minus before the tax amount (-Rxx) mean?

A: The Auto Assessment outcome is provided in the SMS notification as a credit amount where SARS owes you (- R 1.00) or a debit amount (R 1.00) where you owe SARS.

Q: ​ ​I cannot reach the SARS contact centre

A: Most of our services are available online via eFiling or MobiApp, so mostly there is no need to call us.  If you must call us and our lines are busy, please make use of the call back feature so that you do not have to hold on the line.

Q: ​ ​There is no “Accept” button

A: If you have received a SMS from SARS, watch these easy steps in our videos on how to view the auto assessment on eFiling or on MobiApp.

Q: ​ ​What happens if you don’t accept your proposed auto assessment?

A: You have the option to edit and updated with additional information before submitting.

Q: ​ ​I need my tax number

A: You can request your tax number from SARS in various ways. See all the information on how to request your tax reference number.

Q: ​ ​How long does a verification take?

A: In most cases a verification should be concluded within 21 business days from the date all required supporting documents are received.

Q: ​ ​When I attempt to submit/calculate my ITR12 I get a message with an error code (0020; 0021; 0022; 0023; 0024; 0025; 4478; 4479; 4480; 4481; 4482; 4483) stating that my return cannot be processed.  What does this mean?

A: When a taxpayer submits a return and a lump sum had accrued to the taxpayer during the year, the system may create a rejected return due to variable reasons as a result of mismatching information between the IRP5 declared by the taxpayer and the tax directive. Refer to the code presented to you and the corresponding explanation. The first code will be returned when you submit your return, the code in brackets will be returned when a tax calculation is requested.

  1. 0020 (4478) – IRP5 Tax Directive No. invalid
    Please note that SARS will not process this return. The Tax Directive number captured on the return is incorrect/invalid. Please contact the Fund administrator/Employer to rectify the error and submit the rectified return.
  2. 0021 (4479) – IRP5 L/S accrual date invalid
    Please note that SARS will not process the return. The accrual date on the IRP5 does not correspond to the accrual date on the Tax Directive available to SARS. Contact the Fund administrator/Employer to rectify the error and submit the rectified return.
  3. 0022 (4480) – IRP5 L/S source code invalid
    Please note that SARS will not process the return. The Lump Sum source code on the IRP5 does not correspond to the Tax Directive source code available to SARS. Contact the Fund administrator/Employer to rectify the error and submit the rectified return.
  4. 0023 (4481) – IRP5 Lump Sum amount invalid
    Please note that SARS will not process the return. The Lump Sum amount on the IRP5 does not correspond to the Tax Directive amount available to SARS. Contact the Fund administrator/Employer to rectify the error and submit the rectified return.
  5. 0024 (4482) – IRP5 received invalid
    Please note that SARS will not process this return. There is a finalised tax directive processed but no lump sum amount is declared on the return. Please contact the Fund administrator/Employer to rectify the error and submit the rectified return.
  6. 0025 (4483) – IRP5 certificate number missing for Tax Directive 
    Please note that SARS will not process the return. There is a finalised tax directive processed but the IRP5 Certificate number is not declared on the return. Please contact the Fund administrator/Employer to rectify the error and resubmit the rectified return.

Q: ​ ​When I submitted my ITR12 to SARS I was presented with a code (0020; 0021; 0022; 0023; 0024; 0025) and a message.  Has the return been received by SARS and can I submit the supporting documents?

A: Where a return is rejected, the copy of the return will be saved on eFiling/MobiApp to enable you to edit the return. The return is therefore still outstanding.  You will not be able to upload or submit supporting documents to correct the status and should contact the Administrator/Employer to take the appropriate corrective actions.  Only once the mismatch has been remedied will you be able to submit your ITR12.

Q: ​ I cannot submit my ITR12 as a result of a mismatch between my IRP5 and the tax directive.  How do I remedy the mismatch so that I can file my return?

A: You will have to contact the Fund administrator/Employer to take the relevant corrective actions.  Once the IRP5/tax directive has been updated you will be able to file your ITR12.  (Remember to click on refresh data to update the IRP5 that is pre-populated on the return.)

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