How to file your tax return

by Staff Writer

Posted on 19-Jul-2018

The bogeyman under the bed. The thing in the closet. SARS. Tax Returns. If these things give you the chills, never fear. Our How-To guide is here to help you file your tax return without nightmares. Please take note that this article is written for the individual or sole proprietor. If you have a company or a business, the same rules may not apply and it may be better to consult with a professional.


Tax season starts 1st July 2018 and ends 21 September 2018 this year.  Most SARS offices will also be open on a Saturday during the tax season.  You can find out the business hours of your nearest branch on their websites.  In this case, go in early to ensure that you don’t have to spend your whole day in a queue.

There are two ways to file your tax return:  Via e-filing or over the counter at the SARS offices.  Firstly, we will discuss how to register for e-filing if you want to go that route. 

First go to and click on register.  There is a 6-step process which should take about 10 minutes.  Be sure to register as an individual.  SARS will authenticate your profile and send the status of your registration to your email.  Ensure that you have the exact same information on your e-filing registration that you have logged at SARS.  Any discrepancies (different cell number, address, etc) may delay or reject this process.  If your registration is rejected, you must visit your SARS offices with the supporting documentation requested.

If you have successfully registered on e-filing, you can submit your tax return online.  To submit online:

  • Log in to your e-filing.  Make sure it is your name that appears at the top.
  • Click the Returns button at the top of the page.
  • Click Personal Income Tax, the ITR12 form
  • Select the tax year and click on Request Return
  • Fill in your Tax Form by clicking the relevant boxes.  Take your time and be accurate.
  • When you are 100% happy, click File Return and you’re done

SARS may ask for supporting documents such as your IRP5 or Medical Tax Certificate.  Be sure that you have these scanned and saved as PDF Files, correctly named, for attachments as necessary.


If you decide to go the over-the-counter route, get together the following documents:

·         IRP5 form from your employer (if applicable)

·         Certificates received for local interest income, foreign interest income and foreign dividend income (if applicable)

·         Documents relating to medical expenditure such as the income tax certificate from your medical scheme if you have one 

·         Proof of qualifying medical expenses paid by you and not recovered from a medical scheme

·         If you received a travel allowance or a fringe benefit for an employer-provided vehicle, you must have a logbook to claim the business travel deductions.

·         Any supporting documents for allowances you receive, such as a cell phone allowance, etc.  A list of deductibles can be found here:

·         Green bar-coded ID or Smartcard

·         Proof of residential residence.  The following documents are accepted by SARS as proof of residence:  (Take note that a bank statement with your address does not qualify)



– Utility account i.e. rates and taxes, water or electricity account​ Less than 3 months old

– Educational Institution account ​Less than 3 months old​

​- Medical aid statement​​ Less than 3 months old​

​- Mortgage statement from mortgage lender ​​Less than 6 months old​

– ​Telephone account (All networks) ​​Less than 3 months old

– ​SABC television licence​ Less than 1-year-old

​- Retail accounts (e.g. Woolworths, Edgars, etc.) ​ Less than 3 months old​



– Motor vehicle licence documents ​Less than 1 year old

​- Court order ​​Less than 3 months old​

​- Subpoena​​ Less than 3 months old

– ​Traffic fine ​​Less than 3 months old

​- Documentation relating to UIF or pension pay-out​​ Less than 3 months old​



– ​Life assurance document ​​Less than 1-year old​

– ​Short-term insurance document​​Less than 1-year-old

– ​Health insurance document​​Less than 1-year-old

– ​Funeral policy document​​Less than 1-year old​

– ​Investment statement from share, portfolio or unit trust ​​Less than 1-year old​



– ​Current and valid agreement​


If you are a sole proprietor, you will need to take an Income Statement and a Balance sheet of the relevant Tax Year. 


Please take note that you are not allowed to bring any weapons into SARS offices.  If you have a laptop, you have to log the serial number with security, otherwise you won’t be allowed to leave the offices with your laptop.  Cell phones and tablets however, are not a problem.


Once past security you will be directed to the ticketing desk.  They will ask what you are there for and in what capacity.  State whether you are a sole proprietor or an Individual there to file your tax return. Not register for VAT or filing a VAT return, or for an enquiry.  If they assign you the wrong ticket, you will most likely be sent to the back of the line after you pitched up at the wrong window.


The consultant will fill in the ITR12 form for you, with the information that you give her/him and submit your Tax Return.  They will be able to tell you immediately if you will be able to claim or need to pay in.  You can also receive a Tax Clearance Certificate now.


SARS and Tax Returns need not be a headache.  If you have all your documents together and available, submitting should be a breeze.  I would definitely recommend that you register for e-filing, as your returns can be done from the comfort of your own home and on time.  If you have problems registering for e-filing, your best bet would be to go to the SARS offices and ask for help.  The consultants are there to help you. 


Hopefully we have allayed your Tax fears with this guide.  The SARS website will also be able to answer a lot of questions we may have not covered here, so go give them a browse:


Let us know in the comment section about your submission adventures, until next time!


AyobaDotCom member

Staff Writer

Research and Analysis for AyobaDotCom

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