Comprehensive Guide to SARS, SARS eFiling, and Taxes in South Africa


The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is the tax-collecting authority of South Africa, responsible for administering the tax system and ensuring compliance with tax laws. Understanding SARS, SARS eFiling, and general tax principles is crucial for all tax citizens in South Africa to manage their tax obligations efficiently.

What is SARS?

SARS, the South African Revenue Service, is a government agency established to collect and administer various taxes, duties, and levies. Its primary functions include:

  • Collecting revenue
  • Ensuring compliance with tax laws
  • Facilitating trade and protecting the economy
  • Providing taxpayer education and assistance

Understanding Taxes in South Africa

Types of Taxes

  1. Personal Income Tax: Levied on the income of individuals.
  2. Corporate Income Tax: Imposed on the profits of companies.
  3. Value-Added Tax (VAT): A consumption tax levied on the value added to goods and services.
  4. Capital Gains Tax: Tax on the profit from the sale of an asset.
  5. Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE): Withholding tax on employees’ salaries.
  6. Provisional Tax: Prepayment of income tax for businesses and individuals with non-salary income.
  7. Customs and Excise Duties: Taxes on imported and exported goods.
  8. Estate Duty: Tax on the estate of a deceased person.

Tax Residency

Tax residents in South Africa are taxed on their worldwide income, while non-residents are taxed only on income sourced within South Africa. Determining tax residency involves:

  • Ordinarily Resident Test: Assessing if South Africa is your usual or principal residence.
  • Physical Presence Test: Requires spending a certain amount of days in South Africa over five years.

Tax Year

The South African tax year runs from March 1st to the end of February the following year.

SARS eFiling

SARS eFiling is an online platform that allows taxpayers to submit their tax returns, make payments, and interact with SARS electronically.

Benefits of SARS eFiling

  • Convenience of filing from anywhere
  • Faster processing of returns and refunds
  • Secure platform for tax transactions
  • Reduces paperwork and manual errors
  • Access to historical tax records

How to Register for SARS eFiling

  1. Visit the SARS eFiling website.
  2. Click on “Register” and follow the prompts to create your profile.
  3. Complete the registration form with your personal details, tax number, and banking information.
  4. Verify your identity through the provided methods.
  5. Once registered, you can log in to your eFiling account.

Submitting a Tax Return via eFiling

  1. Log in to your eFiling account.
  2. Navigate to the “Returns Issued” section and select the relevant tax return (e.g., ITR12 for individuals).
  3. Complete the return by filling in the required fields with accurate information.
  4. Attach any supporting documents if necessary.
  5. Review the return for accuracy and completeness.
  6. Submit the return electronically.
  7. Keep a copy of the confirmation of submission for your records.

Making Payments through eFiling

  1. Log in to your eFiling account.
  2. Go to the “Payments” section and select “Make a Payment.”
  3. Choose the relevant tax type and period for which the payment is being made.
  4. Enter the payment details and amount.
  5. Select your preferred payment method (e.g., EFT, credit card).
  6. Complete the payment process and retain the proof of payment.

General Tax Tips

  • Keep Accurate Records: Maintain organized records of all income, expenses, and supporting documents.
  • Understand Deductions: Familiarize yourself with allowable deductions to reduce taxable income.
  • Seek Professional Help: Consider consulting a tax professional for complex tax situations.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with changes in tax laws and regulations.
  • File Timely: Submit tax returns and make payments on time to avoid penalties and interest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Who needs to register for tax in South Africa?

Any individual earning more than the tax threshold, companies, and other legal entities are required to register for tax.

2. What is the tax threshold in South Africa?

The tax threshold varies by age group. For the 2023/2024 tax year:

  • Below age 65: R95,750
  • Age 65 to below 75: R148,217
  • Age 75 and older: R165,689

3. How do I know if I am a tax resident?

You are a tax resident if you are ordinarily resident in South Africa or meet the physical presence test.

4. What documents do I need to submit my tax return?

Common documents include IRP5/IT3(a) certificates, medical aid certificates, retirement annuity certificates, and proof of other income and deductions.

5. How do I reset my eFiling password?

Visit the eFiling login page, click on “Forgot Password,” and follow the instructions to reset your password.

6. What should I do if I made a mistake on my tax return?

You can request a correction through your eFiling account by navigating to the submitted return and selecting “Request Correction.”

7. How long does it take to receive a tax refund?

Refunds are typically processed within 21 business days, provided there are no issues or audits required.

8. What is provisional tax, and who must pay it?

Provisional tax is a prepayment of income tax, payable by individuals who earn income other than a salary, such as business owners and freelancers.

9. Can I file a tax return after the deadline?

Yes, but late submissions may incur penalties and interest. It’s advisable to file as soon as possible if you miss the deadline.

10. How do I contact SARS for assistance?

You can contact SARS through their call center at 0800 00 7277, visit a SARS branch, or use the online query system on the eFiling platform.


Managing taxes effectively is a vital responsibility for all tax citizens in South Africa. Utilizing SARS eFiling can simplify the process, ensuring compliance and efficiency. Stay informed, organized, and proactive in handling your tax obligations to avoid complications and penalties.