When you plan and prepare for tax year-end, you can utilize tax savings more effectively and experience less stress and hazzle when submitting your tax returns.
Although the official tax year-end date, for individuals and companies with a February year-end, is 28 February each year, you need to consider some financial institutions and public benefit organisations cut-off a few days earlier to have sufficient time for processing and administration. This is important to know if you still want to maximise your personal tax savings for the current tax year.
Here are a few tips to maximise your personal tax savings before the tax year ends:
- Deductions for retirement contributions.
You can deduct contributions to a pension fund, provident fund, and retirement annuity. The total deduction allowed in a tax year should not exceed:
- R350,000 or
- 27,5% of the higher of remuneration or taxable income.
This means that you will legally reduce your taxable income and therefore pay less tax. You can make once-off / top-up contributions to your retirement annuity to ensure you get the maximum savings. This is recommended for entrepreneurs who might not have a pension fund at work or do not contribute monthly; but also, for employed individuals who don’t have sufficient retirement savings. Ensure that your tax certificate from the retirement fund reflect all your monthly and top-up contributions.
- Donations in terms of Section18A.
Donations to an authorised Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) are deductible from taxable income. The deduction is limited to 10% of taxable income. Ensure that the organisation has a PBO registration number (SARS approved) and request a tax certificate from them to verify your donations.
- Tax-free savings accounts.
You can invest up to R36,000 annually and R500,000 over your lifetime into a tax-free savings investment. You will pay no income tax, capital gains tax or dividend tax on the returns that you earn provided you keep to the annual limits. The purpose of these accounts is to help you invest over a longer term and to earn tax-free returns. Not all savings and investment accounts qualify to be a tax-free savings account. Ensure that the investment you select qualifies as a tax-free savings investment. If you have not yet made use of this benefit during the year, now is a good time to make that investment or to top-up your current tax-free savings account to the maximum limit.
A few tips to make tax year-end as smooth as possible:
- Obtain all documents and file the documents.
Make a list of all the documents you require for tax purposes and tick them off as you receive them. After tax year-end you will be receiving tax certificates from the banks, financial institutions, medical aid, retirement funds etc. File all the electronic documents in a tax folder on your computer. The same applies to slips for medical expenses, petrol, or other claimable expenses you have paid during the year as well as invoices for rental income and IRP5’s. Request any outstanding documents way in advance. By doing this you can control that you have all the required documents when you need it to complete your tax return especially if you are selected for auditing purposes and need to upload supporting documents.
- Review your tax certificates.
Don’t just assume the figures on your IRP5’s and tax certificates are accurate and complete. Check the figures back to your bank statements, payslips, investment statements etc.
- Review your tax returns and assessments.
SARS is implementing a bigger drive towards auto-assessments where majority of your tax related numbers are pre-populated on your return by using information submitted by relevant third parties. Check these figures to your certificates and actual numbers received or paid before you submit your return. Ensure that your return / assessment reflect all your payments made to SARS during the year – provisional payments as well as outstanding payments from previous years. When your tax return is completed by your accountant or tax consultant, you still need to review and sign-off on the numbers submitted. Your tax return is ultimately your responsibility.
- Adhere to SARS deadlines.
Adhere to the deadlines from SARS for submitting returns and making payments. These deadlines are changed often, do not assume the deadlines will be the same as the previous years. If you have an accountant or tax consultant, ensure you provide them with all the required documents and information in advance to give them sufficient time to adhere to the deadlines. Not adhering to the SARS deadlines, result in penalties and interest being charged. This is an unnecessary expense, rather adhere to the deadlines and invest that money!