SAIPA shares tax pointers

NOW that the tax season has officially opened, the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) urges taxpayers to ensure compliance with the rules of getting some cash back.
‘Nobody is exempt from tax unless the person is earning below the threshold and there is no free pass if people do not file their forms correctly. Now is the time to ensure compliance, get the tax right and avoid fines and unnecessary penalties,’ said SAIPA Tax Specialist Sibusiso Thungo.
He emphasised honesty is the best policy. ‘It is vital that taxpayers ensure they are compliant, that their returns are honest, all information is accurate and that their returns reflect a true picture of what happened over the past year.
‘There are few things as stressful, both financially and emotionally, as discovering that one’s accounts are not compliant and you have huge penalties to pay to SARS.’
He recommended taxpayers familiarise themselves with the correct filing dates, information, paperwork and legalities to avoid unnecessary risk or stress.
‘The cost of non-compliance is far higher than the cost of time invested in ensuring that you understand how to file your taxes correctly,’ Thungo said.
Tax tips ‘If you are unsure about how to file your tax return or the paperwork required, then it is advisable to go to your local SARS branch where the consultants can assist you free of charge or, better still, approach a tax practitioner in your area.
‘If you are using, or plan to use, a tax practitioner, ensure that they are registered with a recognised controlling body.
‘Ask them for their PR number and contact the relevant authority to ensure it is valid and up-to-date.
‘The next step is to gather all the supporting documents required by SARS. ‘To know what document is needed: for any amount that you are claiming/ declaring that does not appear on the IRP 5 pre-loaded on your Income Tax Return (ITR12) supporting documents should be available should SARS call for them.
‘Create a comprehensive checklist that covers every item required by SARS. ‘Ensure the documentation is legible and accessible. SARS will reject forms and supporting documentation that cannot be read by their systems.
‘Also, some of the tax regulations have changed this year, so taxpayers need to spend some time getting to know the new rules.’
Latest amendments Thungo said some of the noteworthy IT 12 tax return amendments are that medical aid has become more detailed and transparent.
‘The taxpayer has to differentiate between what has or has not been paid by the scheme throughout the year.
‘People with more than one retirement annuity also need to report each one separately, and travel allowance reporting has also changed in terms of how it is claimed, and what can be claimed.’
He added taxpayers need to be on the alert to avoid getting scammed. ‘There are warning signs to look out for
when using a tax practitioner to complete your returns.
‘If they promise to get you a refund, that is always a warning. ‘If they do not ask you for proof or certificates, that is also a concern.
‘Just be aware of the requirements so you can be aware of the risks.’

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