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Those bozos at SARS, and some worse bozos - 07/05/2010

posted 3 Aug 2010, 01:15 by Carl Nielsen

I've started getting a number of queries from clients on 2 issues.

The first is an email that is going around promising a SARS refund. The
wording is along the lines of:

"After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity..."

Now, chat to SARS via email and the level of english you can expect is way
worse than the above, but their official communications are actually written
by someone who is literate, so the english level reflected here is
indicative of a probably hoax message. Also, if you hover your mouse over
the clickable link in the email, it should tell you where the link is
pointing. You'll notice that it is a very strange address and nothing to do
with SARS. These two factors are a give-away that this mail is a phishing
attack and should be deleted, preferably with Shift-Delete so that it
doesn't even go to your Deleted Items folder.

So, that's the worse bozos I alluded to. As for the SARS bozos, they have
invested in an SMS-reminder system that unfortunately is so under-powered
that all it becomes is an SMS-let's-sow-some-confusion system. They tell you
in the SMS that your tax is due (usually the SMS is sent about a day before
something is due, so as to increase the panic) but they are unable to tell
you what kind of tax or even who the taxpaying entity is. Luckily they seem
to have a system that only emails a cellphone once even if it is listed as
the contact for more than one taxpayer or I'd probably get about 100 SMS'es
each time.

The only clue in the SMS is the due date, so let me quickly hint at what the
tax timing is on various payments so that if you get an SMS reminder from
SARS you can try to figure out what they're going on about and if you even
need to worry.

If the due date they give is the 7th of the month (or just before in the
event that the 7th is a Saturday, Sunday or P.H.) then they are on about
Employees Tax, SDL and UIF. This only applies if you employ people. So more
than likely, if you get this, it is addressed to you in your capacity as
member of a CC or director of a company. If you know that I handle your
payroll taxes, then fear not. Our systems revolve around these things and we
make sure we get your EMP201 return (the thing they're after) done in time.
If you do it yourself, then take a moment to be reminded by them.

If the tax they're asking for is due on the 25th (again, it might be
slightly earlier if that day is not a business day) then it's VAT they want.
Once again, if we handle your VAT return, you can rest assured it is under
control. If VAT is done using eFiling then it is only due the last business
day of the month, so an SMS referring to such a date is probably also VAT.

The exception to the above is that Provisional Tax is due on 28 Feb and 31
Aug each year. So in those months, a reminder might be for Prov Tax rather
than VAT. Provisional Tax is a perpetual thorn in our side as the systems
around it are not as robust as VAT and PAYE. However, if we've handled your
Prov Tax before, then going forward it is 99% likely to be adequately
covered. So you can rest assured. If you're a newish client, then maybe just
drop me a reminder that you think SARS is onto you about provisional tax so
I can assure myself, you and SARS that we're on top of it.

Of course, there has to be an exception here and that is for companies whose
year end is not 28 Feb or 31 Aug: your prov tax reminders will be according
to your year end and 6 months thereafter.

It's also possible that a month-end reminder could be for assessed income
tax rather than VAT. Although we try to make sure we're completely on top of
that as well, that is probably the most likely time that we might let things
slip through cracks, so if you do get a reminder from SARS for a month-end
and you know it can't be for VAT, and you're expecting me to have handled
it, then I'd be greatful if you would just drop me a reminder email.

And if you get a reminder with any other date, then it probably is something
we should just consider, so please let me know.

In my next email, which will follow shortly, I'll deal with some changes to
how travel allowances are taxed. The changes have been pretty well covered
in the media, but I thought I'd like to put it out there nonetheless in case
some people haven't heard about it. Also, I have noticed some confusion
(sometimes deliberate!) regarding how cars are taxed or untaxed, so will
deal with it fairly comprehensively.