What should you know about Auto Assessment?

What should you know about Auto Assessment?

What is an auto-assessment?
An auto-assessment is an automatic assessment issued on taxpayers by SARS. This basically means that SARS has collected taxpayer information from their parties (such as medical aid or retirement annuities) and then use this information to file your return and issue an assessment on this return automatically without your involvement.

How will you know if you are auto-assessed? 
You should receive an email or SMS from SARS informing you that you have been selected for auto-assessment. The process started in July 2022. But, this is not the first time SARS has issued an auto-assessment. They also issued these in the 2021 tax year.


What should I do if I receive an auto-assessment? 

SARS says if you agree with the aut0-assessment, you do not have to do anything. However, should you be in disagreement, you have just 40 working days from the date of assessment to file a correction (edited tax return.)


What happens if you miss the 40 days? 

If you do not do anything, SARS assumes you are in agreement with the auto-assessment. The assessment becomes your final assessment at the expiration of the 40 business days.

Can I request an extension? 
If you feel the 40 working days are too little, you can request an extension on eFiling before the 40 days have expired. SARS will require “reasonable” grounds for the request. if you miss the deadline, you will have an additional 21 working days to submit a request for an extension on the same terms. If both 21 and 40 days have passed and you still were not able to submit a correction, you will need to provide “exceptional circumstances” to justify a delayed request for extension.


NOW TO THE BIG QUESTION, SHOULD I ACCEPT THE AUTO-ASSESSMENT? 

We think this is a risky move if (and SARS may not pick up these things on an auto-assessment:)

1. You have qualifying donations you would like to claim

2. You have qualifying out-of-pocket medical aid expenses

3. Your medical aid is being paid for by someone who is not the principal member (normally the person paying for the medical aid would be the one to claim the medical tax credits.)

4. You have capital gains on assets that you sold that fall outside the scope of an auto assessment

5. You are a crypto or share trader

6. You have a side business or rental income (profit or loss)

7. You have and qualify for a home office expense claim (deductions)

8. You would like to claim your business travel kilometres

9. SARS missed one or some of your retirement annuity funds

Contact us:
Was this helpful? Would you like us to do your tax return? Get in touch with us via email (evatax@evacfo.com) or by phone – 021 823 9684

What are the tax implications of trading or buying shares?

What are the tax implications of trading or buying shares?

The tax implication for having shares boil down to two things, whether your gain is income in nature or capital (gain) in nature. Let’s start by defining these two things:


Income: 

Shares held as trading stock are bought mainly for resale at a profit. In other words, any shares held for speculative purposes normally fall under this category. The profits or any gain or loss made on the disposal of such shares (held for-profit/speculative) purposes will be of a revenue nature and will not be subject to capital gains.


Gains of a revenue nature are subject to tax at marginal tax rates that vary between 18% and 45% depending on the circumstances of the taxpayer after taking into account all his/her other income (such as salary, rent, business income e.t.c.) The taxpayer can also deduct expenses directly related to the trading of these shares such as broker fees, transaction fees, subscription to broker news, tools and platforms and any such costs directly related to the trading of these shares.


Capital: 

On the other end of the spectrum, for shares held as a capital asset (that is as a long-term dividend producing investment,) any gains or losses arising from such shares (held for investment/dividend earning) upon disposal will be of a capital nature.


Gains that are of a capital nature are subject to capital gains and at a lower tax rate than gains of a revenue nature. Firstly, you get an exclusion of R40 000 as an individual on your gains. This means that you start paying capital gains tax if your gains exceed R40 000 for a tax year (year of assessment.) This is known as the annual exclusion. For natural persons dying during or after the 2020 tax year of assessment, the exclusion is R300 000.


In addition to the annual exclusion, 40% of the gains are included in taxable income and then taxed as the normal marginal tax rates that apply to your salaries or other income. This 40% is known as the inclusion rate. Assuming that your marginal tax rate is 45% (the highest tax bracket,) the maximum you pay on capital gains is 18% (0.4 x 0.45 = 0.18.)


Yes, you guessed it right, there can be 0% tax on your capital gains when:

  • The sum of capital gain and losses does not exceed the annual exclusion;
  • The sum of capital gain is less than or equal to the sum of capital losses (which means your gains set off against your gains); or
  • Taxable income falls below the level at which normal tax becomes payable, that is if your combined income plus gains fall under the tax-free threshold.

The effective rate (of 18%) we spoke about earlier applies if you fall in the highest tax bracket as an individual taxpayer. The rate is different from that which applies to companies or trusts. Companies and trusts, other than special trusts, pay a higher CGT than natural persons. They do not qualify for the annual exclusion and must include the capital gain at 80% of the gain into their taxable income.  These are the effective tax rates:

  • Companies are at an effective rate of 22.4% which is derived from the 80% inclusion rate and the 28% normal taxes for companies (0.28 x 0.8.)
  • A trust that is not a special trust si at 36% effective tax rate for capital gains (0.45 x 0.8)

What we have done above is the simplest way to look at share-holding. Are things that simple? Not always. The line between gains/losses of a revenue nature or gains of a capital nature can be a bit blurry.


Capital vs revenue: 

When computing your tax liability, the first step is to determine if your gains are capital or revenue in nature. Apart from the three-year rule according to Section 9C (that basically says you must own a share for at least 3 years for your gains to be treated as capital in nature,) the Tax Act itself does not provide objective rules to distinguish between gains of revenue and capital nature. This task has always been left to the courts, which over the years have established some rules for this distinction. So, the onus is on you as the taxpayer to prove that your gains are of a capital or revenue nature.


The most important factor in establishing the nature of your gains is the intention. This is not always an easy task since you can have more than one intention at a time and since intention can change over time. But, the courts have established that the taxpayer evidence as to intention must be tested against the surrounding circumstances of the case. These may include, the frequency of transactions, method of funding and reasons for selling. These may help establish your intention when you bought or sold the shares (Elandsheuwel Farming (Edms) Bpk v SBI.) “If they (the shares) were bought as a long-term investment to produce dividend income, the profit is likely to be of a capital nature. But if the shares were bought for resale at a profit, the profit will be of a revenue nature.”


In SIR v The Trust Bank of Africa Ltd it was established that for a profit to be of a capital nature, “the slightest contemplation of a profitable resale need not be excluded.

Where there were mixed intentions, the dominating intention is the one that establishes intention (COT v Levy.)


Some general guidelines/Principles (source, the SARS guide on tax implications on shares:) 

  • Any profit or loss on disposal of shares will be of a revenue nature if they were purchased for resale as part of a scheme of profit-making (Californian Copper Syndicate (Limited and Reduced) v Harris (Surveyor of Taxes)
  • A profit on the sale of shares is more likely to be of a revenue nature if it was not fortuitous, but designedly sought for and worked for (CIR v Pick ’n Pay Employee Share Purchase Trust )
  • The usual badge of fixed capital investment is that it is acquired for better or for worse, or, relatively speaking, for “keeps”, and will be disposed of only if some unusual, unexpected, or special circumstance, warranting or inducing disposal, supervened (Barnato Holdings Ltd v SIR). 
  • The scale and frequency of share transactions are of major importance, although not conclusive (CIR v Nussbaum).
  • Shares bought for the dominant, main and overriding purpose of securing the highest dividend income possible will be of a capital nature when the profit motive is incidental (CIR v Middelman).
  • Just as an occasional swallow does not make a summer, an occasional sale of shares yielding a profit does not of itself make a seller of shares, a dealer in them (CIR v Middelman).

I do not want to make this a complex matter, so let’s end here. If you need further information or guidance get in touch with me or consult your tax practitioner.

Are you learning anything from this series? Do you want to share any pointers or experiences?

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How to guard yourself against being sued by SARS

How to guard yourself against being sued by SARS

Since April 2018, SARS has been cracking down on non-complying taxpayers in filing their tax return. Since April, SARS has successfully prosecuted and convicted 10 taxpayers for failing to submit their outstanding tax return. Among these people is prominent soccer player, Teko Modise. Most of you would have also read about the socialite Bonang being dragged to court by SARS over non-compliance.


In terms of the Tax Administration Act, the following are viewed as criminal offences:

  • Avoiding paying taxes
  • Not submitting tax returns
  • Failure to submit information to SARS
  • Submitting false information to SARS
  • Giving an incorrect answer to SARS, whether in writing or orally
  • Failing or neglecting to register or failure to notify SARS of changes in registered particulars
  • Issuing an erroneous, incomplete or false document required under a tax Act

Here are a few tips to guard against being sued by SARS:


Appoint a tax practitioner:

Tax laws and requirements are constantly changing. Each year new laws are introduced. It is hard to keep up to date with these changes if you are non-tax experts. It is advisable to appoint tax practitioners to always advise you on tax-related matters and to submit the tax return for you in terms of the relevant laws. This will save you the costs of objections and “fighting” with SARS.


Always check your tax compliance status and inbox: 

One should regularly check their tax compliance status, which is a platform that gives an indication of whether one’s tax affairs are in order.


Your tax compliance profile should be green in all aspects as per the above image. The minute any of those tabs turn red, something has gone wrong with your tax affairs. You should immediately investigate and address these issues. SARS will also often send you a notification when your tax compliance status changes. When you receive this, immediately investigate and resolve it. If you hired a tax practitioner, you must also immediately notify them so that they can investigate and help you to resolve these identified issues.


Do not miss a return submission: 

You must always submit all your tax return where you are required to do so. Missing a tax return is a criminal offence and may land you in trouble. There are few instances where one may not be required to submit a tax return. If in doubt about whether or not you need to submit one, consult with your tax practitioner/professional. Generally, only people who meet the four below criteria do not have to submit an income tax:


– Your total employment income/salary for the year is not more than R350 000

–    You only received employment income/salary for the full year of assessment from one employer.

– You have no car allowance/company car/ travel allowance or other income (e.g. interest or rental income).

– You are not claiming tax related deductions/rebates (e.g. medical expenses, retirement annuity contributions other than pension contributions made by your employer, travel).


Keep and submit supporting documents: 

One must always ensure that for everything on their tax return, there is a valid supporting document. Constantly check your inbox to ensure that you respond to request for supporting documents by SARS. SARS is becoming quite strict with these. So, ensure that you have proper and valid supporting documents for your tax return.


Be truthful and honest: 

Remember, there is a difference between tax avoidance and tax optimisation. Tax avoidance is a criminal offence in terms of the Tax Administration Act and can land you in big trouble. When submitting your tax return, ensure that you have honestly done so. Declare all income that accrued to you in that tax year (salaries, rental income, commission and other incomes). In terms of expenses, you must take care not to include personal or expenses of a capital nature. As an example, personal groceries or drawings will not be allowed as deductions and should not form part of your deductions. Similarly, if you are in the business or renting cars or accommodation, the capital repayments on the car or property cannot be deducted as business expenses. If you have a home office, you may not claim your entire house’s rental expense.


For home office expenses, one would need to work out the total square meterage of the home office in relation to the total square meterage of the house, and then convert this to a percentage. One then applies this percentage to the home office expenditure in order to calculate the portion, which is deductible.


Conclusion: 

It is a criminal offence not to submit a tax return. Late submission of a tax return also has huge consequences. Submitting late can attract penalties, interests and administrative penalties, which can range from R250 to R16 000 per month. If you have a couple of outstanding returns, this is when SARS can get the NPA involved leading to an individual’s case being heard before the court.


Do you or your business need help to comply with tax laws or SARS? Click here to contact us

What you need to know if you are earning foreign income

What you need to know if you are earning foreign income

    • Key takeaway points:

 

    • 1. Before 1 March 2020, all foreign income (as defined) was exempt
    • 2. After 1 March 2020, the exemption is limited to R1.25 million
    • 3. Certain conditions have to be met before the exemption can be applied
    • 4. Independent contractors and individuals who are self-employed are excluded from this exemption.
    • 5. Tax residency is NOT based on Citizenship.
    • 6. You must notify SARS as soon as you cease to be a tax resident.
    • 7. SARS will require certain supporting documents to verify your foreign income and residency status

What is foreign income exemption?
“Section 10(1)(o)(ii) provides for an exemption for foreign employment income received for services rendered outside South Africa, provided the requirements are met.”

Before 1 March 2020, if all conditions were met, the entire income was exempt.

 


The conditions include:

1. Be a tax resident of South Africa
2. Earn certain types of income (such as salary, taxable benefits, leave pay, Wage, overtime pay, bonus, gratuity, Commission, Fee, emolument, allowances including travel and advances, amounts received in respect of share vesting…)
3. In respect of services rendered by way of employment
4. Outside South Africa
5. During specified qualifying periods (see paragraphs that follow)
6. Have a formal employment contract (with a resident or non-resident employer)


Since 1 March 2020, the exemption is limited to R1.25 million if the conditions are met. Any remuneration received in excess of R1.25 million will be subject to normal tax rules in South Africa. Before 1 March 2020, the income would have been exempt if all conditions were met.


You must file your tax return even when you qualify for this exemption and the qualifying income must be declared under the relevant SARS codes.

 


Who is a tax resident?
Citizenship does not define tax residency. A tax resident is a person who is ordinarily resident or becomes a resident by way of a physical presence test, which requires one to be in SA for a certain period of time to be considered a tax resident. If you do not want to be a tax resident, your option is to financially emigrate However, emigration alone does not remove the residency status as the physical presence test may still be applied to determine your tax residency status.


You must notify SARS as soon as you cease to be a tax resident.

 


The physical presence test:

This is a calculation of the actual amount of time you physically spend in SA. You are considered a SA tax resident if you meet all of the criteria below:

1. 91 days in South Africa in the current year of assessment, and
2. 91 days or more in each of the preceding five years of assessment, and
3. 915 days in total during those five preceding years of assessment.


You fail the physical presence test if you fail to meet any one of the above criteria.

 


What are the qualifying periods?

An employee must be outside South Africa for certain periods to qualify for the exemption:

1. A period not exceeding 183 full days (in total) during
2. Any 12 month period (not a calendar year or a tax season) and
3. A continuous period exceeding full and unbroken 60 days during that 12 month period

 


Who does not qualify for this exemption?

1.Independent contractors
2. People who are self-employed
3. A public office holder appointed or deemed to be appointed under an Act of Parliament
4. Employees who are employed in the national, provincial or local sphere of government, certain constitutional institutions, national and provincial public entities and municipal entities.

 


Supporting documents required by SARS:

1. Spreadsheet showing number of days in and out of SA
2. Copy of your passport showing days in and out of SA
3. Letter from your employer stating you’re allowed to work overseas (and for what periods), plus what amount was earned during that period
4. Foreign/ex-pat assignment employment contract
5. IRP5 showing foreign employment income earned (e.g source code 3651, 3653, 3655, etc.


We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to use the comments section below or contact us here.

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