Tax 101

You hear on the news that tax filing season opened on 1July 2013 and you're thinking: "Eish!!!" I don't like that word: 'tax'. Before you break out into a cold sweat, have sleepless nights, or both, let me share a few do's and don'ts.
 
What You Should Do
 
Do ensure that you are a registered taxpayer. If you are an individual and are employed, chances are that you already have a tax number. Half the job is done. If you are running a business, all you need to do is call SARS (0800 00 SARS/7277), give them some of your business's details, and they will give you more information.
 
Do register on SARS eFiling. Hit the register button on the website (www.sarsefiling .co.za) and fill out the registration form online. SARS eFiling has made it much easier to submit your tax returns, with 99, 8% of South Africans submitting this way. It's a leap from putting your return in the drop box at the SARS building. But there are far more queries from SARS now than before, with the Revenue Service frequently requesting more information and documentation from taxpayers. Be prepared.
 
Do request the services of a registered tax practitioner, especially if you are running a business. All practising tax practitioners must be registered with a professional controlling body, so as to ensure that you receive the best service. Make sure the person you hire is registered. A tax practitioner can assist with all the funny legal tax jargon that SARS throws at you and will inform you of all the relevant tax deadlines and compliance issues.
 
Do gather all your documents if you are an individual taxpayer, for example, an IRP5 from your employer, your medical contributions certificate, and retirement annuity contributions certificate .Then log in to your profile on SARS eFiling, request your return for 2013, and fill it in. SARS eFiling, can "help you eFile" once you have logged in, so there is no need to stress .Your tax return may be selected for audit and could be scrutinised. In the past, around one out of ten returns were audited. Now it is far higher (up to eight out of ten tax returns)
 
Do file your return before the due date. Due dates are available on the SARS eFiling website. Filing your return on time means that you will not be hit with penalties for late submission and you won't have to deal with the slow download speed on the e-filing website closer to the deadline date. You may even be in line for a refund if you claim expenses. Who doesn't need extra cash?
 
Do keep all tax documents for a minimum of five years. This goes for individuals as well as businesses.
 
What You Shouldn't Do
 
Don't lie on your tax return. An incorrect submission and deliberate omission of information is punishable by law, so if you don't fancy spending some quality time with guys in orange overalls and tattoos, I suggest being truthful.
 
Don't share your SARS eFiling login and password with anyone, not even with your BFF (best friend forever, for those who don't know.
 
Don't respond to emails that appear to be from SARS and that promise you fantastic refunds. There are many scams out there. You've been warned!