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Are you ready? SARS auto assessments – changes to be aware of in 2023

By August 2, 2023October 5th, 2023FinGlobal

Are you ready? SARS auto assessments – changes to be aware of in 2023

August 2, 2023


If you hadn’t already heard, this year’s tax season is underway. With this in mind, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) released vital information to ensure that taxpayers are equipped to navigate this period successfully. This included an announcement about significant changes with regard to the handling of SARS auto-assessments this year.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about the 2023 tax season, and the SARS updates you’ll need to be aware of to stay on the right side of the tax authority.

South Africa tax season 2023: the lowdown from SARS

  • Runs this year for individual taxpayers from Friday 7 July 2023 until Monday 23 October 2023.
  • Runs this year for provisional taxpayers from Friday 7 July 2023 to Wednesday 24 January 2024.

As part of their efforts to streamline the tax system, and make it easier for taxpayers to achieve tax compliance, SARS introduced auto assessments last year. To relieve the burden of having to manually submit a tax return, SARS performs an automatic assessment of certain income tax liability of certain individuals based on information gathered from their employers, financial institutions, medical schemes, retirement annuity fund administrators, and other third-party data providers.

Who gets auto-assessed by SARS?

Presently, SARS auto assesses taxpayers whose tax affairs are straightforward. This means that you are more likely to be auto-assessed if you:

  • Earn a salary or wage income from employment
  • Do not have any other sources of income (e.g: rental income or freelance income)
  • Have a simple tax return with no complicated deductions or credits
  • Have filed your tax return on time in the previous tax season.

If you are unsure if you are likely to be auto-assessed, you can check the SARS website or contact SARS directly.

When will SARS auto assessments start in 2023?

The SARS auto assessment process kicked off on 1 July 2023. Last year, taxpayers had a limited window of 40 days to challenge their auto-assessments if they had any disputes or concerns. This year, SARS has extended the dispute window until the season deadline of 23 October 2023, to give taxpayers more than enough time to carefully review their auto assessments and make any necessary adjustments. As such, if you receive an auto-assessment notice after 23 October 2023, the clock starts ticking on the 40 business days from the date of receipt.

SARS auto-assessments in 2023: the process

  1. You will be notified from 1 July 2023 by SMS or email if you have been selected to undergo an auto-assessment by SARS.
  2. Once you have received an auto-assessment notification, you will need to review the results using the SARS MobiApp or eFiling.
  3. You have two choices at this point:
    a. Accept the SARS auto assessment
    b. Reject the SARS auto assessment

If you did not get an auto-assessment notification from SARS, you will need to submit your Personal Income Tax Return (ITR12) as usual, by making use of the SARS platforms.

How to accept the SARS auto-assessment

If you agree with the results generated by SARS using all of the data gathered on you from third parties, no further action is required from you.
If you are due a refund, this will take approximately 72 hours to be completed, as long as your banking details are correct.
If you owe SARS any money, you will need to settle this before the due date shown on your Notice of Assessment (ITA34) in order to avoid interest accumulating on your tax liability.

How to reject the SARS auto-assessment

If you are subject to an auto-assessment, you will need to update and file your amended return using eFiling or the SARS MobiApp by Monday 23 October where you disagree with results of your SARS auto-assessment.

You can reject your SARS auto-assessment by:

  1. Logging in to your SARS eFiling account and clicking on the “My Tax Returns” tab.
  2. Choosing the “Auto-Assessment” tab option and clicking the “Reject Auto-Assessment” button.
  3. Entering your reason for rejecting the auto-assessment and then clicking on the “Submit” button.

Once you have rejected the auto-assessment, you will need to file your own tax return, as you usually would. To ensure you are properly prepared, gather your IRP5/IT3(a) and any other tax certificates that may be necessary, such as medical aid, retirement annuity fund, and any other third-party data relevant to calculating your tax obligation.

You have until the deadline of Monday 23 October 2023 to submit tax returns, after which SARS admin penalties may apply.

FinGlobal: tax specialists for South Africans abroad

Living overseas? Unsure whether you need to file a tax return in South Africa? Take a look at this article. It is important to note that until you have deregistered from income tax in South Africa (by completing the process of tax emigration) you will be considered a South African tax resident and SARS will expect you to submit a tax return.

For confidential expert advice on expat tax compliance and how to get your tax affairs in order, please leave your contact details in the form below.

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