SARS alerts for tax season 2023 – what you should know

Staff Writer1 June 2023SubscribeThe South African Revenue Service (SARS) is preparing its systems for the coming 2023 tax season, which will open on 7 July 2023.The taxman has issued two related alerts, including a system update for the eFiling service and a cautionary notice about the pre-population of third-party data.On the former, SARS said it is pushing ahead with its Vision 2024 strategy of building a “smart, modern SARS with unquestionable integrity”.To achieve this, it needs to keep developing its digital platforms and technology infrastructure.“In order to provide clarity and certainty, make it easy for taxpayers and traders to comply with their obligations and build public trust and confidence, our technology assets have to demonstrate the highest levels of availability, robustness and security,” it said.“We are hard at work ensuring that our digital platforms and technology infrastructure are available, robust and secure by performing regular upgrades, enhancements and maintenance.”It said that it would be upgrading its eFiling systems on Friday, 2 June, between 18h00 and 22h00, and warned taxpayers that its systems would be “intermittently” disrupted.Pre-populating dataSARS said that in preparation for the opening of the Personal Income Tax Filing Season, personal income and provisional income taxpayers will see their profiles updated with third-party information.Starting 2 June 2023, until the opening of the filing season in July, there is a possibility that the prepopulated data reflecting within Personal Income Tax or Provisional Tax returns requested via eFiling, the SARS Mobi application or via a SARS Branch Office during this period, will pre-populate, it said.However, the service warned that the data presented might not be comprehensive until filing season officially opens to the public.Auto assessmentsAs with previous years, South African taxpayers can expect auto assessments to play a pivotal role in this year’s tax season.Auto assessments are a quicker way for SARS to process the tax affairs of South Africans with simpler tax affairs.For the 2022 tax season, if taxpayers agreed with their auto assessments, there was no need to “accept” the assessment. SARS has not yet announced any changes to this process for the 2023 tax year, but more information could be shared on the coming tax season as it approaches.Under auto assessments, if a refund is due to to the taxpayer, then the refund follows automatically. If money is owed to SARS, payment is required as soon as possible to avoid interest and penalties.SARS said that normal tax returns could also be submitted if taxpayers disagree with the auto assessment. These submissions would then correct any incorrect information or add information that was not included.