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Submit your individual tax returns with success using these six expert tips

by , 01 July 2013
Today marks the beginning of the 2013 tax-filing season for individual tax payers. To help ease the anxiety that comes with tax season, here's what you need to know to ensure you submit your returns with success.

Income tax is the normal tax you pay on your taxable income. The income tax return you should complete is known as the ITR12 form.

According to SARS, you're liable to pay income tax if you earn more than R63 556 in the 2013 year of assessment and are younger than 65 years of age. If you're 65 years of age or older, the tax threshold (the amount above which income tax becomes payable) increases to R99 056. For taxpayers aged 75 years and older, this threshold is R110 889.

To ensure you're not liable for penalties, it's crucial you submit your tax return on 22 November 2013.

Use these six tips to ensure your 2013 tax-filing season is seamless

According to tax expert Ettiene Retief, chairperson of the National Tax and Stakeholders Committees at the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (Saipa), SARS has targets to meet, therefore, it's crucial that your report everything accurately, on time and, above all, make sure you have the supporting paperwork.

In a statement, Retief pointed out issues that often give taxpayers a problem. Here are Retief's tips to help you overcome these problems:

#1: Medical expenses not covered by medical aid can be claimed by those over the age of 65 or by those suffering certain types of disability. If a claim is made in respect of this disability, make sure the requisite SARS form accompanies the claim. The form may be downloaded from the SARS website.

#2: Other taxpayers may only claim for out-of-pocket medical expenses if they exceed 7.5% of their total income. 'Just be aware that Sars will ask for the supporting documentation for any out-of-pocket medical claims. Make sure you have it,' said Retief.

#3: Keep in mind that when making a claim for business-related travel in a private vehicle, you need to have an accurate logbook ready to back up your claims. 'Don't claim for business-related travel if you don't have a logbook. SARS will almost certainly want to see it,' cautioned Retief in his statement.

A logbook needs to contain the odometer reading at the beginning of the tax period and at the end, with each business trip logged by date, destination, purpose and number of kilometres travelled, explains the Practical Tax Loose Leaf.

#4: As an individual taxpayer, it's crucial you check the information SARS has pre-populated on your tax returns on e-filing is accurate. Remember that inaccuracies that come to light if an audit is done could make it seem like you've been acting fraudulently.

#5: According to Retief, something that can easily slip under the radar is interest earned from the savings portion of comprehensive medical aid schemes, or even interest earned from SARS on late repayments.

To make sure that all sources of income have been identified, Retief advises taxpayers to go through all their bank statements for the year. 'All income shown on the statements should either be reflected on the tax return or, if it's not taxable income (a loan repayment, for example), the taxpayer should note its provenance,' said Retief.

#6: If you're using a tax practitioner to handle your affairs, make sure your tax practitioner is legitimate and is registered with SARS and is a member of one of the recognised controlling bodies like Saipa, cautions FSP Business.

When should your tax retuns be submitted?

  • According to SARS, the deadline for all taxpayers who wish to submit their tax return manually, by mail or by drop-off at any dedicated SARS drop box, is 27 September 2013.
  • The deadline for all taxpayers who submit their returns electronically at a SARS branch is 22 November 2013, so if you do it online you get more time.

Well there you have it. Use these tips to ensure your 2013 tax-filing season is seamless.

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