South Africans who have not submitted their tax returns should do so quickly, as it is incredibly unlikely that the South African Revenue Service will give them an extension.

Individual taxpayers (non-provisional) only have two weeks left to submit their tax returns until the official deadline of Tuesday, 23 October 2023.

Those who fail to submit their returns will face penalties ranging from R250 to R16,000 for each month of non-compliance, depending on the income bracket.

According to Zulfah Mullins, Tax Compliance Officer at Hobbs Sinclair, South Africans can get an extension on their tax submission deadlines.

These circumstances must be entirely out of their control and are generally incredibly rare. For instance, those in extenuating events like a natural disaster, civil war, medical incapacitation, or imprisonment abroad.

These things are not typical and require a proper and convincing justification.

South Africans must also check if they are a provisional taxpayer, as their returns are only due in January and not October.

“As a tax practitioner, year-on-year, as soon as that tax deadline hits, we get an influx of penalty notices for individuals,” said Mullins. 

“If you are lucky, SARS may announce an extension at their discretion, but you cannot bank on this, and if you do not submit your return on time, you can and will be penalised every month the submission is late – up to a maximum of 35 months.”

Those who disagree with the penalty can dispute it by requesting a remittance.

Nevertheless, penalties will accumulate during the appeal unless the taxpayer submits a separate application requesting a suspension of payment.

For those lucky enough to get an extension, they are extremely short, ranging from one to two weeks, meaning that taxpayers must have all the necessary documentation on hand.

Hard to miss

Although life can get in the way, SARS has generally made it incredibly easy for South Africans to submit their returns, with online services like e-filing and nationwide branches to assist with any queries.

“They even have satellite/pop-up branches across the country in more remote areas, available throughout the year, before the end of the tax season, so there really is no reason why you could not and should not submit your returns on time,”  added Mullins.  

“Don’t let that tax deadline sneak up on you. Unless you are locked up, your house has burnt down, or you’ve got a doctor’s note, I urge you to get your tax submissions in by the due date, or else you are likely to incur penalties.”

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