Sars goes online only as Covid tightens its grip - TechCentral

Sars goes online only as Covid tightens its grip

Owing to the soaring number of Covid-19 infections currently sweeping the country, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) has announced the temporary closure of tax branches from physical visits from 1 July.

This comes as the country’s seven-day moving average of positive Covid-19 infections surpassed 12 000 cases. On Wednesday alone, 17 493 infections and 166 deaths were recorded.

In terms of the Disaster Management Act, the Sars is an essential service. “We have always stressed the importance of balancing the continuity of this service with the risk of transmission. With the rising case numbers and the onset of the third wave peak of the pandemic, we have decided to close our tax branches temporarily for physical visits as from 1 July,” the tax agency said.

The revenue collector said it was able to embark on this measure as its digital platforms had demonstrated the ability to meet obligations efficiently online.

The temporary closure of the tax branches is not anticipated to affect the start of the filing season for individuals who traditionally file via e-filing or the Sars mobile app. These taxpayers are encouraged to continue doing so digitally, starting from 1 July.

Continuous review

Sars reiterated that branch filing would not commence on 1 July. “At this stage, we plan to commence physical branch visits on 16 August, but will review this continuously. Taxpayers are advised not to come to a Sars branch. The branches will be closed until an announcement is made confirming the reopening date.

“During the branch closures, taxpayers who require assistance to file online will be assisted telephonically with the support of dedicated Sars staff,” it said.

All customs ports of entry will be open for frontline customs operations, but not for face-to-face client engagement other than for clearance and inspection purposes.

During this period, the Sars call centre will continue to service any queries from members of the public.

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