South African Revenue Service (SARS) branches are being inundated with taxpayers needing help with filing provisional and annual tax returns, despite the technology introduced several years ago allowing remote submissions.
Statistics indicate that branches are seeing 55 percent more taxpayers than at the same period last year. As a result of the pressure on SARS branches, queuing times are averaging between 60 and 90 minutes.
However, once taxpayers are with a SARS official it takes only 10 to 12 minutes to capture tax returns.
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SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay said yesterday that since the 2012 tax season began in July, SARS had received 2.3-million tax returns.
The average rate of submission each day since July 1 was more than 40,300 returns.
SARS has introduced a new initiative to help taxpayers unfamiliar with the electronic filing system file their annual tax returns.
The system, Help-You-eFile, went live yesterday and put taxpayers in direct contact with a SARS agent while they complete tax returns online. The new service was announced at the start of the filing season.
SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula said at the time that research had indicated that taxpayers who visited SARS branches had access to the internet and could file electronically. But they did not know how to use e-filing and did not feel completely at ease to do it on their own.
The Help-You-eFile service would allow a contact centre agent to see exactly what the taxpayer was doing and could guide taxpayers through the form, prompting them in real time about where to go and what to fill in.
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