Yesterday SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter held a media briefing to discuss the steps that the revenue service would be taking during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

He outlined the digital services that SARS would be making available to South Africans at this time, as well as urged them to remain compliant in terms of their tax-related requirements.

“If there was ever a time where delivering on our mandate matters, it is now. During this time, it remains extremely important for all taxpayers to remain compliant,” he explained.

This means that taxpayers should submit tax and customs declarations, returns, and relevant submissions when it is required, and make the necessary payments when they become due. The only exceptions for the above is if they have entered into a permissible payment arrangement with SARS, he added.

Kieswetter also focused on the fact that many businesses are struggling currently, and that refunds payable by SARS could offer some sort of respite.

He also spoke about the revenue service‘s role in facilitating the tax relief measures that the presidency announced a couple of weeks ago under its R500 billion plan.

“We also had to prepare our core administration systems to administer all the tax relief measures announced by government,” said Kieswetter.

In order to handle many of the initiatives that government has mentioned, SARS is reconfiguring its work to convert more taxpayers to its digital services and modify its operations, according to the commissioner.

“I am pleased to share that our technology and data management teams have worked tirelessly and added 30 additional functionalities to our digital offering including: automated registration for PIT – almost 6 000 registrations have already taken place,” he enthused.

“Notice of registration for VAT now available on e-filing, allowing VAT vendors to view, print or save their Notice of Registration – almost 5 000 have already been facilitated,” he continued.

Taxpayers are now being urged to utilise the enhanced e-filing. SARS says that non-filers can now also submit supporting documents via the web, in a bid to reduce the need to head into its offices, with an estimated 1 200 submissions having already been made.

SARS has also suspended the need for VAT interviews as a pre-registration requirement to post-registration too.

Should a taxpayer still want to come into offices, SARS has introduced an online appointment system. To be honest, this is one feature we’d definitely like to see remain after the COVID-19 pandemic.

It therefore seems like the current global crisis, and phased national lockdown, could turn SARS into a digitally-enabled organisation.

“We are currently redesigning our website to enhance navigation and functionality and align it to our refreshed branding which we will launch shortly. We will announce additional enhancements as they are completed,” concluded Kieswetter.

[Source – SA News] [Image – Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash]