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2020 Tax Season – What You Need to Know

2020 Tax Season – What You Need to Know

On the 5 May 2020 the South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter, held a media brief in which fundamental changes were announced to the 2020 tax filing season in relation to personal income tax. To see the full media release, please click here.

Kieswetter stated “more than ever before, we need taxpayers to remain compliant!” and as such SARS have designed a three-phase approach for the filing season commencing in April 2020 and ending in January 2021. According to SARS the different phases will ensure a “seamless filing season”.

Phase 1: 15 April 2020 to 31 May 2020 – Employer Filing

The first phase focused on employers and third-party data providers (banks, financial service companies, medical aid providers, retirement funds) who were required to submit their information to SARS by 31 May 2020.

In addition, SARS will interface with the National Population Register, the Companies Register and the Deeds Office and by using data modelling and artificial intelligence perform checks on the taxpayer base.

Phase 2: 1 June 2020 to 31 August 2020 – Tax File Updates

During the second (current) phase SARS have requested taxpayers to ensure their tax files are up to date in terms of general hygiene checks such as banking details, address changes, etc. SARS will also validate the third-party data received and will follow up on employers and other third-party data providers that either did not submit information by the Phase 1 deadline or that still have outstanding returns after failing to meet SARS verification requirements.

SARS have also stated that third party data provider and employers “who remain wilfully non-compliant” will be charged criminally.


From 1 August SARS will issue auto-assessments to about three million taxpayers who they refer to as “standard income earners”. These are taxpayers with a single income from one employer, plus the standard deductions (medical aid, retirement annuity/pension/provident fund contributions). Kieswetter states that as SARS have all their information, they can issue an assessment on behalf of the taxpayer.

It is important to note the taxpayer must still approve the auto-assessment issued by SARS and taxpayers should only accept the auto-assessment if they are satisfied that their financial data has been correctly reported to SARS, and that they do not have any additional income, deductions, rebates or tax credits to declare.

Please note if you receive an auto-assessment kindly notify your Moore office who will check it to the source documentation provided to them.

SARS have also committed to pay out any refund due to taxpayers who were auto-assessed within 72 hours.

Phase 3: 1 September 2020 to 31 January 2021

Taxpayers who have not been auto-assessed, as well as those who are not satisfied with their auto-assessments, will be able to file their annual returns from 1 September.

Non-provisional taxpayers who file through electronic channels will be able to do so until 16 November. Taxpayers wanting to submit a manual return at a SARS branch will only be able to so until 22 October. Taxpayers must make an appointment online to see an assessor and need to arrive on time for their meeting. Due to the impact of Covid-19, these appointment rules by SARS will be rigidly enforced.

Provisional taxpayers who file through eFiling will be able to do so from 1 September to 29 January 2021.

To summarise Phase 3

Tax Season 2020 Deadlines


If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact your local Moore office.