5 Tips For Early Preparation of Tax returns

Earlier is better when it comes to working on your taxes. SARS encourages everyone to get a head start on tax preparation. Not only do you avoid the last-minute rush, early filers also get a faster refund.

There are five easy ways to get a good jump on your taxes long before the November deadline rolls around:

  1. Gather your records in advance. Make sure you have all the records you need, including it3 b’s from your medical aid, pension/provident fund and IRP 5 from your employer. Don't forget to save a copy for your files.
  2. Get the right forms. They're available around the clock on SARS.gov.za in the Forms and Publications section.
  3. Take your time. Don't forget to leave room for a coffee break when filling out your tax return. Rushing can mean making a mistake — and that can be expensive!
  4. Double-check your math and Income Tax number. These are among the most common errors on tax returns. Taking care on these reduces your chances of hearing from the SARS.
  5. Get the fastest refund. When you file early, you get your refund faster. Using e-filing gets you a refund if due in half the time as paper filing.

Amended Returns

Oops! You've discovered an error after your tax return has been filed. What should you do? You may need to amend your return.

Firsly, don’t Panic

SARS usually corrects basic errors or requests missing forms or schedules. In these instances, do not amend your return as SARS will normally amend your assessment. However, if they do not amend the assessment or the following items were reported incorrectly:

  • Your filing status
  • Your total income
  • Your deductions or credits

You can request to amend your Income Tax Return, to correct a previously filed paper or electronically-filed Tax return. You can request and new income tax return on the online page holding your current tax return by clicking on the “Request correction” button. This will create a new tax return under “Returns Issued” tab.

Charitable Contributions

You can make charitable contributions up to R200,000 per year without incurring any donations tax. The donation may even be tax deductible if it is made to a registered charity under Section 18A of the Income Tax act. In order to claim this expense however you will need to obtain a receipt from the charity in your name showing the amount donated and the charities Section 18A registration number. This will need to be uploaded to SARS should you decide to claim the donation as an expense.

Eight Ways to Avoid Problems at Tax Time

Looking for ways to avoid the last-minute rush for doing your taxes? SARS offers these tips:

  1. Don't Procrastinate. Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the last minute. Your haste to meet the filing deadline may cause you to overlook potential sources of tax savings and will likely increase your risk of making an error.
  2. Organize Your Tax Records. Tax preparation time can be significantly reduced if you develop a system for organizing your records and receipts. Start with the income, deduction or tax credit items that were on last year's return.
  3. Visit SARS Online. Millions of taxpayers visited the SARS Web site. Anyone with Internet access can find tax law information and answers to frequently asked tax questions.
  4. Take Advantage of Free Assistance. SARS offers telephonic assistance on completing tax returns free of charge. Contact them on 0800 00 SARS (7277)
  5. Have your accountant Double-Check Your Math and Data Entries. Review your return for possible errors and make sure you have provided the correct information and schedules.
  6. Have Your Refund Deposited Directly to Your Bank Account. Another way to speed up your refund and reduce the chance of theft is to have the amount deposited directly to your bank account. Check the tax instructions and verify bank details to speed up payment.
  7. Don't Panic if You Can't Pay. If you can't immediately pay the taxes you owe, consider some stress-reducing alternatives. You can apply to SARS for an installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date
  8. Contact Us!

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