What you need to know: 2020 tax filing season

Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the advice given in this educational material is correct. Nevertheless, that advice is given purely as guidance readers to assist them with particular problems relating to the subject matter of the educational material, and African Venture Group will have no responsibility to any person for any claim of any nature whatsoever that may arise out of, or relate to, the contents of this educational material.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) recently announced the relevant and information and dates in respect of the 2020 filing season for individuals, which covers income/expenses from 1 March 2019 to 29 February 2020.

Important changes 

There are some significant procedural changes this year, to limit queues, observe social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and alleviate the administrative burden on SARS staff. The most significant change is the mass roll-out of auto-assessments for non-provisional taxpayers, from 1 August 2020.

Provisional taxpayers, and those who did not qualify for auto-assessment, can start submitting their returns from 1 September 2020.

How do auto-assessments work?

If you receive an SMS, this means that SARS will complete your return with all the information received for you and generate an automatic assessment. If you accept it, you won’t have to file a tax return at all.

The information used by SARS to calculate the auto-assessment will include tax certificates issued by third parties such as employers, financial institutions, medical aid funds and retirement annuity funds. 

Taxpayers will be notified about their auto-assessment results via SMS (or email if a cell phone number is not available). They will then be required to review and accept their assessments, or to edit the assessments if they dispute them, providing the correct information to SARS. 

Carefully review the following data to make sure it is correct:

  • IRP5/ IT3(a) certificate(s);

  • All other tax certificates such as medical aid certificates;

  • Retirement annuity fund certificates;

  • IT3(b)s from financial institutions.

Taxpayers are responsible to communicate with third parties if any information is incorrect.

If you don’t have the certificates yet, contact your employer, medical scheme, retirement annuity fund and other third parties to get them.

Should taxpayers wish to claim any deductions not reflected on their tax certificates, such as a deduction to a section 18A organisation ( tax deductible donations made to tax exempt public benefit organisations) not reflected on an employee’s IRP5, interest expenses, certain medical expenses, home office expenses, wear and tear etc., it will be important to dispute the auto-assessment in order to correct the assessment.

The correct information can be provided to SARS electronically, using e-filing or the SARS MobiApp.

Once an auto-assessment is accepted, any under- or over-payment of tax will be processed in the normal manner, and taxpayers will be notified of the amount due or refund owing to them. Should a refund be due, it should follow within a week. 

Important dates

The dates for submission of income tax returns are as follows:

  • 1 September - 22 October 2020: Taxpayers who need to file at a SARS branch to submit their returns (these taxpayers must make an online booking in order to visit a branch);

  • 1 September - 16 November 2020: Non-provisional taxpayers who were not auto-assessed or who have not accepted their auto assessment and who submit their returns via e-filing; and

  • 1 September - 29 January 2021: Provisional taxpayers who file via e-filing.

Avoid scams and phishing attacks

Members of the public are warned about false emails made to look as if they were sent from SARS, but are in fact fraudulent emails aimed at enticing unsuspecting taxpayers to provide personal information such as bank account details. 

Examples include emails that appear to be from returns@sars.co.za or refunds@sars.co.za, indicating that taxpayers are eligible to receive tax refunds. 

These emails contain links to false forms and fake websites with the aim of fooling people into entering personal information such as bank account details which criminals then extract and use fraudulently.

SARS advises taxpayers to take note of the following:

  • Do not open or respond to emails from unknown sources;

  • Beware of emails that ask for personal, tax, banking and eFiling details (login credentials, passwords, pins, credit / debit card information, etc.);

  • SARS will never request your banking details in any communication that you receive via post, email, or SMS. However, for the purpose of telephonic engagement and authentication purposes, SARS will verify your personal details. Importantly, SARS will not send you any hyperlinks to other websites - even those of banks;

  • Beware of false SMSes;

  • SARS does not send *.htm or *.html attachments;

  • SARS will never ask for your credit card details.

To report or to get more information on phishing, please send an email to phishing@sars.gov.za or call the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Hotline on 0800 00 2870.

Important notes

If you are unsure of your tax affairs, contact African Venture Group's tax department who can carefully review your affairs to ensure you claim all allowable deductions and disclose all relevant income. 

African Venture Group

1 Nollsworth Crescent, Umhlanga, Durban, 4051



078 115 6607


+27 78 115 6607

Email: info@africanventuregroup.co.za

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