Taxpayers can relief from the burden of filing a return in future. Picture: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV
Taxpayers can relief from the burden of filing a return in future. Picture: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV

If you are a salary earner, you may well not have to file an income tax return in the future. The SA Revenue Service (Sars) is reforming the pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) and personal income tax system so that most salary earners will in future not need to file, the Budget Review reveals.

In terms of the proposed reforms, as an employee, you’ll also be able to monitor your tax obligation during the course of the year and filing processes for your employer will also be simplified.

According to the Budget Review, the government plans to implement “a more modern, automated process for employers” that will ensure they withhold tax on your salary more accurately and timeously. This should also reduce the administrative burden for employers, payroll administrators and Sars.

If you’ve earned less than R500,000 income this year from a single source, you already don’t have to file a tax return. This is provided your employer has deducted PAYE; you have no car or travel allowance or company car fringe benefit; and you have no other form of income, such as interest, rental income or extra money from a side hustle.

Taxpayers in similar positions but on higher salaries can expect similar relief from the burden of filing a return in future. But if you ought to have filed a return and didn’t, you can expect tougher treatment from Sars.

Currently Sars may, in this case, issue an estimated assessment of the tax you owe, which you can only dispute if you file your return and Sars fails to revise the assessment in the light of your return.

This ensures that Sars has all facts when it revisits your assessment and dispute resolution timelines that would otherwise apply may be relaxed in appropriate circumstances.

One of the proposals Sars will make this year to the Tax Administration Act is to extend this policy to cases where the tax authority has asked you for specific relevant material on more than one occasion and you have not responded adequately, the Budget Review says.

Sars may also withhold any tax refund it owes you if you have returns that are outstanding or if your refund is being verified, inspected or audited.

The Budget Review says Sars will propose that this measure be extended to include cases where there is a criminal investigation.