E-filing Versus The Branch
Have you ever wondered what the benefits are to filing your return through e-filing rather than a local SARS branch office? This article is written by a tax consultant who has extensive experience with this matter and brings practicality to the article.
Only possible when technology is available
E-filing has many obvious benefits such as the avoidance of long queues and the inconvenience of going to a branch office. If, however, one does not have the IT equipment or know how, there is no benefit. Or is there? Your personal income tax return can still be given to a tax specialist who almost always files your tax return online through e-filing. This enables a taxpayer to skip the queue and have a specialist deal with your taxes. Also, if there are any queries afterwards, the taxpayer does not have to go all the way back to the branch office only to be met by another long queue.
The tax calculator
When going to a branch office, it is hard to estimate whether a person will or will not receive a tax refund. Where e-filing is used however, a person may calculate a return before submitting their personal income tax return. This is a useful tool but should not be abused as SARS can pick up when a return is manipulated by entering data until the most favorable result is calculated. To maximize your personal income tax returns speak to a tax consultant to help you structure your income to the best possible position. A tax calculator cannot do this. It only calculates a tax return with the information available at that point. A tax calculator also does not confirm whether a return will be subject to an audit or not.
Today a return is assessed within only a few seconds. If you are entitled to a tax return and there is no audit, SARS prides them in paying out quickly. I can confirm this from experience. The refund should be in your bank account within 48 to 72 hours once the return has been finalised. I would imagine the branch office is the same, however; with e-filing there are no queues and the refund goal can therefore be achieved quicker.
This is especially the case for people that are swamped under during July and the subsequent months. A SARS branch office always has a deadline before e-filing. In other words, when a return is submitted through e-filing, the deadline is later than at the branch office. The deadline is usually around end November each year.
File your income tax return anytime
As e-filing is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, a return can be submitted at any time except when down for major maintenance. This means that a person can come home after a long day’s work and file a return from home without making provision to visit a local SARS branch office.
Ability to update all your information
When in control of the information on the system, one can easily see when certain details on an income tax return are incorrect. This includes the address, contact number and banking details of the individual. These could be corrected before submitting the return. Also, financial information captured on the e-filing system can also be reviewed before being submitted to SARS.
Full records kept on e-filing
When filing an income tax return through e-filing, a record is kept of everything captured and can no longer be altered. Therefore, if a mistake is made, it is easy for a tax practitioner to identify the error and lodge an objection with SARS. This is especially so as the practitioner working on the return can see exactly what was entered on the return and which documents, if any, have been submitted to SARS. A good tax practitioner will therefore be able to identify where the taxpayer went wrong or which documents must still be submitted with SARS. The situation can be corrected by handing this over to a tax practitioner at this stage as lodging an objection incorrectly or lodging an appeal instead of an objection could lead to many further complications. Make sure an error is corrected within 30 days as it becomes harder to object the longer a person waits.
Get it right the first time
FMJ Financial Services prides itself in submitting a return correctly each time. Our objection ratio for income tax returns filed by ourselves is less than 1%. This means that we submit all the relevant information the first time and deal with any ensuing audits quickly and effectively. If need be, we will look at returns submitted by other people and assist with objections. This is after all what we specialize in – income tax returns for individuals. For more information contact Monique on 079 969 9250 or Jacques on 082 858 5199