How to avoid or reduce the risk of a SARS audit

How to avoid or reduce the risk of a SARS audit

By now we all know that SARS is looking to raise more tax revenue to make up for revenue collection shortfalls. This means SARS may and will do all they can to increase revenue collections.


It will not be surprising to find that SARS audit teams will target taxpayers in order to raise additional income. Besides, their systems are designed to pick up “discrepancies” on a taxpayers’ return and these can easily trigger an audit. So do not be surprised if, a few days after submitting, you get a notification from SARS saying you’ve been selected to submit your supporting documentation for inspection or even that you have been selected for a full audit.


At Eva Financial Solutions, we have a team of dedicated and diligent tax practitioners working around the clock to ensure that you do not pay a single cent more that what you should legally pay over to SARS. We have designed our internal processes, checks and balances to ensure that, even if the audit comes, our clients can avoid an audit or the process goes smoothly without causing them unnecessary emotional stress.


Here are a few tips:
  • Always ensure that your tax affairs are up to date and that you have filed all tax returns as they fall due.

  • SARS has now made it easy to check your tax compliance status online. You should always check that your tax status is green (compliant). Once you have picked up that you are not compliant seek to address the issues sooner rather than later or consult your tax practitioner for help.

  • You should always come clean with the taxman before being audited. Once the audit has started, you are prevented from claiming the relief under section 227 of the TAA for coming clean.

  • Before you submit your return, ensure that you have all supporting documents for every income and deductions on your return. If you kept a personal data room, by the time your return is due you would have gathered all the necessary supporting documents for your tax return (Medical aid, Travel logbooks, Interest and Dividends certificates etc.).  Be warned, do not convince yourself that if you ignore SARS’ requests for documents long enough, it will just go away. Always have your house in order.

  • If you own and run a business as a sole proprietor or have a rental property, ensure that you do not include and deduct your personal expenses.

  • Chances are that an ordinary taxpayer will struggle to interpret various tax laws or will misinterpret certain SARS requests or requirements. Therefore, always use the services of a reputable tax practitioner or accounting firm. Eva Financial Solutions can assist you in this regard, contact them if you cannot get your own personal tax practitioner.

  • After submitting your return log into (or at least ask your tax practitioner to do so) SARS at least a few more time to check if SARS hasn’t issued any sneaky notifications that require your attention. If your email address and not that of your tax practitioner is linked to your profile, alert your tax practitioner if and when you receive any kind of notification from SARS.

When it comes to VAT, these tips might be helpful:

  • When you get VAT registered ensure that you have sent your VAT number to all your suppliers so that they may update their databases and add your VAT numbers onto your invoices.

  • Insist on getting a valid tax invoice from all your suppliers. When you receive a tax invoice, check that it meets all the requirements of a valid tax invoice

  • Check that the new VAT rate of 15%, and that the total price (including VAT) is correctly calculated before accepting the invoice/quote.

  • Before you submit your VAT return:
    • Check that you have claimed only where you are supposed to claim VAT (for example, you may not claim on motor car (passenger vehicle) rental or entertainment expenses as defined and other zero-rated or tax-exempt supplies.

    • Check that you have applied the correct tax types/rates to each transaction, for example, Zero-rated sales cannot be classified as tax-exempt. Ensure that each tax type is correctly populated on the VAT201 return.

    • Check that you have declared all standard rated sales (Sales VAT at 15%) that you should have declared and have done so using the correct VAT tax rate.

    • Perform turnover VAT reconciliation at each VAT return submission. This will always ensure that your income statement turnover matches your VAT return submission. This will also reduce the risk of an IT14SD and the time it may have to take you if you did this only because SARS asked you to do an IT14SD. Remember, SARS systems are designed to pick up discrepancies between your VAT return submissions and your annual income tax return turnover.

    • Before you hit submit, ensure that the VAT201 is correctly populated and the amounts contained are correct and matches your now correct VAT reports. Remember, once submitted you can only increase not reduce the amount payable.

    • Take care that cash register slips and tax invoices issued from 1 April 2018 reflect the correct VAT rate. This will generally be 15% unless a specific time of supply rule or a rate specific rule applies.

    • VAT vendors issuing debit or credit notes from 1 April 2018 must ascertain that the correct VAT rate is reflected and applied when determining the VAT amount. Debit or credit notes will generally reflect the old VAT rate of 14% where it relates to supplies of goods or services before 1 April 2018, subject to certain exceptions. Similarly, debit or credit notes relating to supplies made after 1 April 2018 must reflect the new rate of 15%.

    • If your accounting systems allow, ensure that you immediately lock the submitted periods so that no further changes are effected to a closed VAT period.

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6 Key factors to consider when choosing an accounting software or a business App

6 Key factors to consider when choosing an accounting software or a business App

It goes without saying, there are thousands of software and Business Apps available on the market and on the internet. Additionally, each accounting software may also come with a thousand business apps on their various app marketplace. So, one has to choose carefully before adopting a piece of software. Not everything that looks cool works for every business. Some factors to consider.

 


Does my business need this?

Before adopting a system or business App, one needs to do a needs or systems analysis. This is where critical questions are asked before buying or implementing a system or App. Think about what problem your business is actually trying to solve. Is it an inventory management problem? It is that your business has no way of keeping track of cash in versus cash out, what sort of reports do you expect or actually need to run, what is the volume of data that should be handled by this system, can this system or app handle such volume of data, etc. Once a systems or needs analysis is performed you can then look at other factors.


Can this system or App integrate with our key software? 

Some Apps or systems may look cool and all functions work perfectly fine. However, there may be a problem in integrations with your primary compliance software. Some may require you to run a report then process a manual journal into your primary software because there is no integration with your primary software. This, in turn, may lead to human errors such as incorrect journals being processed or whoever processed them not remembering why they processed such journal in the first place. A system or App that integrates with your primary system and auto-sync would be a preferred choice over one that does not. You do not want to spend a lot of money on a business App or system only to find out that you need to spend more to find another App that will help with the integration. A system or App that integrates with your primary system will have lots of advantages such as improved efficiency as there is a degree of automation in as far as communication between the two is concerned. Also, you will not need to manually and separately update each software as what happens in one will be updated in the other software or App.


How long will it take to set up the system?

Often how long it takes to set up a system or App depends is a function of when in the financial year the implementation is done. It is often easier to implement a system or App at the beginning of a financial year than in the middle of a financial year. Implementation of a new system or App may mean moving data from the old system to the new system. This may time and errors may happen. It is important to do proper research before implementing a system. Even better, seek the help of a system specialist or ask the system vendor to help you with setting up the system.


Is there training required? 

Often businesses make the mistake of implementing a system that no one in their organisations knows anything about. After implementation, the staff is left out to figure out things on their own. This is not the right approach. The correct approach is to provide sufficient training before the system is fully rolled out to all staff members. This is to make sure that your staff knows the system well before they can actually start to use it and to use it to interact with your customers. Where possible, do a parallel run of the new system with the old one so that there is enough time to train staff and to iron out any teething issues with the new system. Also, it is important to establish who in the team will be the new system champion. A system or business App champion will be your go-to person when there are issues with the new system or App. If this is not possible, make sure you have the system or App vendor contact details or help desk at hand for when you need help with the system or App.


Get the basics right: 

You also need to get the basics right. By basics, we are referring to the operational things like who does what and who does what when, who has access to the system, who has admin and basic user rights, are the system or App user rights set up correctly, etc. The last thing you want is having the wrong people having access to information that they should not have access to. This may include such things as, who should see a certain report or certain client information.


Multi-currency: 

Lastly, consider if the new system has a multi-currency functionality. This is critical especially if your business invoices or buys/trades in a variety of currencies. You want your system or App to be able to convert to your base currency without having to do it manually in a spreadsheet or otherwise.


In conclusion: 

Not everything that looks cool works for every business. In order to implement the best and right system/App or tools, you need more than just the standard system specifications. Perform detailed systems/need analysis to determine the needs of your entity and whether the system or App you are considering is the best fit.

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