The Commissioner for SARS gave notice in the recent Government Gazette No. 38874 (dated 12 June 2015) of the persons required to file annual income tax returns for the 2015 year of assessment. The 2015 year of assessment (for all persons other than companies) is the 12 month period which ended on 28 February 2015. For companies, this refers to the financial period ending during the 2015 calendar year.
In terms of the notice, any person required to submit an annual tax return for the 2015 tax year must do so within the following prescribed time frames:
As was the case in previous years, companies may only file returns using eFiling – manual returns are no longer allowed in terms of the SARS notice for these taxpayers.
Various criteria are listed in terms of which persons are obliged to submit returns to SARS. For example, all companies, whether incorporated in South Africa or not, are obliged to submit returns if South Africa is the place from which the company is effectively managed. Non-tax resident companies, but which were incorporated in South Africa, must also render returns, as well as non-tax resident companies incorporated outside of the Republic and earning income from a South African source.
Taxpayers (excluding companies) are required to submit returns if they carried on any trade in South Africa during the 2015 tax year. This does not include the mere earning of a salary. A variety of other factors are listed in terms of which non-company taxpayers are required to submit returns. The primary exemption from the requirement to submit a return for tax resident natural persons though is if the person earned only a salary from one employer during the year and which did not exceed R350,000, and income from interest for that person was also less than R23,800 (or R34,500 if the person is older than 65).
Although it may in terms of the notice not be required to submit a tax return, or the person may be exempted from doing so in terms of the above, it may still be beneficial to do so – natural person taxpayers are often under the unfortunate impression that the completion of a return necessarily gives rise to the incidence of tax. This is of course not so and many may have suffered tax consequences during the year already by having amounts deducted from salaries in the form of pay-as-you-earn. This is of course a mere cash flow mechanism introduced to ensure a steady supply of cash to the fiscus and which contributions are set-off from the annual tax liability when the annual tax return submitted is assessed. However, the opportunity to negate this is presented through the completion of a tax return and claiming deductible expenses in the form of e.g. medical aid or pension fund contributions. The principle in this regard is that all income is taxable irrespective of whether a return is completed or not. However deductions can only be claimed by completing a tax return and natural persons specifically should jump at the opportunity to do so.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. (E & OE)