Remote and ready – filing your tax return


#Your Tax Matters

This year, SARS launched the first ever completely virtual Individual Filing Season on 1 July. With branches closed for physical walk-ins until 16 August (this date will be confirmed closer to the time) due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases, SARS has added more features to its digital and online offerings to help taxpayers who may have wanted to come to a branch.

Virtual appointments: eBookings can now be made for a video or telephonic appointment and one of our skilled agents will call taxpayers back. There are various ways in which you can do this:

  • This year we have introduced an SMS service for taxpayers who do not have smartphones or access to sufficient data. Taxpayers are able to send an SMS with the word BOOKING followed by a space, then their ID /passport /asylum number to 47277 and an agent will call the taxpayer to assist them. Taxpayers will not be charged for the SMS.
  • An appointment can also be made on the SARS website by clicking on the “Book an appointment” icon on and completing the steps.
  • Taxpayers can also call the toll-free SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277 and select “0” to make an eBooking.

Once you have made an eBooking, you will receive confirmation of your time slot as well as a case number and a list of supporting documents that you will need to submit to SARS. You can submit the required supporting documents via the SARS website through our Online self-help system.

Filing your returns

Digital: Those who are comfortable with technology should make use of eFiling or the SARS MobiApp to submit their returns. These channels are easier and more convenient than you think! If you are unsure about how to register or use them, you can access several useful guides on the SARS website You can also watch one of our videos on the SARS YouTube channel, e.g. How to register for eFiling or How to download the SARS MobiApp, which will take you through the process step-by-step.

Queries/other issues

If you have any queries or need help with any other issues, you can make use of our various online options:

  1. The following additional services are now also available via the SMS channel (47277):
  • To request a tax reference number, send the keyword “TRN”;
  • To request an account balance, send the keyword “BALANCE”;
  • To check if you need to submit a tax return, send the keyword “FILE”.
  • All of these key words should be followed by a space then the taxpayer’s ID No, passport or Asylum permit No.
  1. SARS Online self-help system on the SARS website Just click on the “Online Services” icon on the home page and you can perform various functions e.g. request a Tax Reference Number or upload Supporting Documents.
  2. Our Chatbot “Lwazi” on the eFiling and MobiApp home pages. You can ask various tax-related questions and request specific information eg. Tax number, Statement of Account, Audit and Refund Status. You don’t even need to log in to use it as it is on the home page of both channels.
  3. SARS Contact Centre: 0800 00 7277


This year SARS will once again be assessing a significant number of individual non-provisional taxpayers by using the data received from employers and other third-party data providers.

You will be sent an SMS from July, informing you that they you been auto-assessed. Upon receiving the SMS from SARS, you have to check the information on eFiling or the MobiApp. If deemed correct, the auto-assessment should be accepted. If you want to change or add anything, you can edit and submit your return on eFiling or the MobiApp.

If the outcome of the auto-assessment is accepted, it is not necessary to complete a return because SARS has already done it for you.

If there is a refund owed to you, the refund will be paid by SARS. If SARS is owed money, a payment can be made via eFiling, EFT or the SARS MobiApp by the specified due date on the Notice of Assessment.

Failure to either accept or edit an auto-assessment between 1 July and 23 November 2021 will result in SARS raising an estimated assessment. This is a final assessment of the information about a taxpayer available to SARS. Should you not agree, you have 40 days to submit your own return and where applicable, penalties may be imposed. For more information on auto-assessments go to the SARS website and search Auto-assessments.

If you are wondering whether an SMS is from SARS, a useful tip is that text messages from SARS will NEVER contain a hyperlink!

Home office claims

With so many people now working from home, home office deductions have become a hot topic this Filing Season.

There isn’t enough space in this column to go into detail about it, but in summary, if you want to know if you can claim, you need to provide evidence of the following:

  1. Permission from your employer to work remotely
  2. Number of days worked remotely for the year – with your employer confirming this, if possible
  3. Floor plan of home showing the room used as an office
  4. The room must be specifically equipped
  5. It must be used regularly and exclusively as an office
  6. The expenses that have been incurred and paid.

SARS reserves the right to conduct a site visit to verify the above.

Please read more here: Home office webpage and here: Home office media release. You can also watch a useful webinar on the subject that was held on 8 July 2021: Home office webinar

  • This is an edited media release from the South African Revenue Service.
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