The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has reached the one-million mark for submitted income tax returns - just 22 days after the 2012 tax season opened on 1 July. Last year, it took five weeks to reach the one-million mark.
Spokesman Adrian Lackay said Sars had received a total of 1 001 162 income tax returns by Monday morning.
"For the corresponding period last year, Sars had received 681 497 tax returns," Lackay said in a statement. "By 7:30am this morning, 319 665 more returns had been submitted compared to the same period last year. This represents an increase of 62% for returns submitted during the first three weeks of the tax season.
R3.07-billion already refunded
"The higher rate of submissions and much faster turn-around times in processing tax returns has enabled Sars to pay R3.07-billion in refunds to 501 096 taxpayers over the past 22 days," Lackay said.
This year there is again a strong migration to electronic filing via Sars branches or eFiling, as only 3 796 returns have so far been submitted manually (a decrease of 32% from last year).
A total of 620 564 returns have been submitted via eFiling, which is 32% higher than for the same period last year. At branch offices, Sars has helped taxpayers across the country to submit 376 802 returns electronically.
Submissions at Sars branch offices
Returns submitted with assistance from Sars at branch offices are 82% higher than for the same period last year. This is because a far higher number of taxpayers approached Sars branch offices for assistance much earlier this year. Waiting periods and queues at the biggest Sars offices have been longer over the past three weeks.
According to Lackay, the situation at branch offices is being monitored on a daily basis, and Sars will make additional resources available to assist taxpayers over the coming weeks.
"Sars wants to thank all taxpayers who have already submitted their income tax returns for this year and wants to encourage all taxpayers to continue to submit returns early in order to avoid the last minute rush during the final days of the tax season."
New technologies for filing
Sars is providing a range of new technologies to make filing a tax return even more convenient. These products are currently being tested with a sample group of taxpayers, and will be ready for roll-out over the coming weeks.
These include an eFiling Application that allows taxpayers to complete and submit their ITR12 tax returns and receive their assessments on iPads and smartphones.
Sars will also introduce an eFiling mobi site - sarsefiling.mobi - enabling taxpayers to complete and submit their ITR12 returns on their cellphones. Taxpayers who visit www.sarsefiling.co.za on their mobiles will have their phone routed to the mobisite.
Sars has also developed a service called Help-You-eFile in which taxpayers can get access to a Sars contact centre agent while they are eFiling their return. The agent will guide the taxpayer through the process.
With the consent of the taxpayer, the agent will be able to access the taxpayer's browsing session and view exactly what the taxpayer is doing on their screen, enabling them to guide and help the taxpayer step-by-step in completing and submitting their ITR12 return on eFiling.
The 2012 tax season runs from 1 July 2012 to 31 January 2013. The deadline for taxpayers who submit their tax returns manually by post or by dropping it off in a Sars drop box is 28 September 2012.
The deadline for all taxpayers who submit their returns electronically at a Sars branch is 23 November 2012. Non-provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via eFiling also have until 23 November 2012.
Provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via eFiling have until 31 January 2013.
The all-in-one official guide
and web portal to South Africa.