It’s going to be a long tax season…

It’s going to be a long tax season…

My grandfather taught me that if ever I needed to write a letter in anger that it was better to write it and then wait until the next day to send it – just to check that I still felt that way and that I still wanted to say the same things when the heat of the moment had passed. It was good advice…and so it is with this post…

We currently complete and submit about 130 tax returns for clients and started submitting them as soon as the filing season opened. However, 2 weeks into the season (and 10% down) I find myself wondering if I still want to do tax for clients and if so, can clients afford to pay me to do it?

The whole aim behind efiling (as I understand it) is to simplify things and to make it easier for people to submit their returns to SARS and in thus enabling those who dont want to pay someone else to do their return to do it themselves. That’s the theory at least!

In practise it is not like this at all…if the first returns are anything to go by then SARS is in a complete mess and this is going to be a very long filing season indeed.

So far the following has happened:

  1. 8 Returns have been submitted
  2. 3 have been assessed correctly
  3. 2 have been assessed incorrectly with SARS levying incorrect penalties of R56000 & R16000 to the tax payers. They have admitted telephonically that it is an error but the process involved in getting it corrected is unbelievably complex and time consuming.
  4. 5 returns are ready to submit but of these there are 2 with outstanding tax issues from 2009 which have still not been finalised despite numerous calls and letters to SARS.
  5. 1 return has no IRP5 or any other information for the tax payer on it  (and he is not even a government employee – apparently some departments’ IRP5’s are still not available).

Not a problem, we can always call the call centre (a dedicated line for tax practitioners)…

Give it a try some time – so far it has been out of service at least twice, we have been cut off twice, the “pre-populated” information that needs to be entered is not working and the average waiting time is also too long in my opinion! So if this is anything to go by then this is going to be a very long and very trying filing season.

When efiling works it is brilliant, but when it goes wrong (for whatever reason) it is awful. I just wish that SARS would be honest and admit (publicly) that there are issues with their systems and that they are working on them.

But what is going to happen (again) is that the very people that SARS are trying to help (the individual tax payers) are going to get prejudiced by the complex way of doing things – they will either have to go and stand in a very long queue outside the SARS building (which in some cases has been days long) or they are going to have to pay someone to submit their returns for them.  And based on my conversations with colleagues, thanks to SARS, the price for submitting returns has just gone up!

So start saving or start standing in the queue…