The South African Revenue Service (SARS) will launch an educational and publicity campaign this month to coincide with the annual tax returns' filing season. This forms part of its mandate to expand the tax base and improve the culture of tax compliance in South Africa.
The campaign is intended to remind taxpayers of their responsibilities and to give new taxpayers advice on how to complete their returns. To make the filing process smooth, the SARS has simplified the steps to be followed by individual taxpayers by issuing a new and more user-friendly form called the IT 12S.
The SARS will set up kiosks at its offices and shopping centres around the country as part of its campaign. These kiosks will be staffed by officials and consultants from the SARS whose job will be to help customers complete the new returns. The kiosks will be up and running all around the country from the beginning of May.
The campaign will also be accompanied by a focused media and publicity drive using the media, brochures, posters and pamphlets that will be issued at the SARS's offices and kiosks around the country.
The drive also seeks to reduce the number of requests from taxpayers for extensions and help customers complete their tax returns correctly. Thirty percent of tax returns received by the SARS are either incorrectly completed, partially completed or without the necessary substantiating documentation.
The SARS plans to issue 3,8-million returns by the end of May. About 2,2-million have been issued to date. There are 3 856 498 individuals and trusts, 1 209 665 companies, 503 905 Value-Added Tax (VAT) vendors, and 251 775 Pay-As-You-Earn cases registered with the SARS.
The 3,8-million returns represent a 6,84-percent growth in the total tax base since the last financial year. For the fiscal year 2002/2003 the SARS electronically paid out R7,3bn in refunds to 911 416 taxpayers, and about R6,028bn in refunds issued via secure mail and the post to about 961 674 taxpayers. The recipients included trusts, individuals and companies.The SARS continues to strive for excellent service and will endeavour to process the tax returns fairly, efficiently and in reasonable time.
ISSUED BY THE COMMISSIONER FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN REVENUE SERVICE