How To File VAT Returns On eFiling

By Tevait Feanle •  Updated: 01/23/24 •  4 min read

For many businesses around South Africa, whether they meet the thresholds for mandatory VAT registration or have opted for voluntary registration to leverage the benefits of being VAT registered, filing VAT returns can be intimidating. It needn’t be, however! It’s simply another tax type to add to your regular tax declarations and will be filed through the same eFiling platform you already use. Today, we are looking at how to file VAT returns on eFiling in greater depth to help you.

How To File VAT Returns On eFiling

If you are conducting business in South Africa, you likely already use the SARS eFiling platform. If you are doing a new business registration, you are unlikely to be eligible for VAT until you meet the rolling 12-month taxable income thresholds. However, you can apply for this tax type in advance if you anticipate meeting them. 

You can sign up for the wider SARS eFiling platform by heading to the eFiling front page. This has recently been revamped, and you can now click on the ‘register’ button to get started. If you already have an active eFiling profile, simply activate the VAT return type through your left-hand menu. You will need to provide your business information, including your taxable income amounts, and receive a unique VAT registration number from them before you can file, pay, and claim back VAT. Be aware that this number is not the same as your general income tax number. 

When you are registered for VAT, you will also receive communication from SARS stating what VAT cycle you will be in. For most businesses, you will either be in Group A or B, which simply determines if you file your bi-monthly (as in every 2 months) statements in odd or even months. There are some simplified and streamlined 6-monthly or annual VAT statements for specific business types, however.

You will see the VAT 201 form type now open to you, which is what you will use to file your VAT returns on eFiling.

What Do I Need To File A VAT Return?

You will, of course, have to have completed your initial VAT enrollment and meet the required taxable income threshold for either voluntary (R50,000 in 12 months) or compulsory (R1,000,000 in 12 months) registration.

You should find that your VAT registration number, trading name, tax period, payment reference number (PRN), and diesel rates for the tax year are pre-populated on your VAT 201 form. You will need to apply to SARS to change these if you spot an error. 

You will then enter your cumulative output tax (products you charged VAT on) and input tax (supplies you paid VAT on) for the period.

You can then submit the return to SARS through eFiling and will either have to pay in VAT or receive a VAT refund, depending on the outcome.

What Are The Requirements To File A VAT Return?

To submit a VAT return to SARS, you are required to be a VAT-registered vendor. This means that you have met the compulsory VAT registration threshold, currently set at R1,000,000 in taxable turnover in any 12-month period. Alternatively, you can choose to register for VAT once you pass R50,000 in taxable turnover in the same period. 

Additionally, you will need to have applied for and received a separate VAT registration number with SARS. You can do this by activating the tax type on eFiling (through the ‘organization tax types’ option). Once you are registered for VAT, you can file VAT 201 forms or the VAT return on the schedule SARS indicates for you.

To accurately track your VAT expenditure and income through the period, you will need to keep meticulous records of your invoices and ensure you are displaying ex-VAT and VAT-inclusive amounts clearly. The qualifying invoices from your suppliers should likewise indicate these amounts. You will then submit a cumulative return for the specific VAT period you are filing and pay (or receive a refund) based on that cumulative amount.

What Happens If You File VAT Late?

While SARS does not currently have a VAT 201 specific penalty for submitting the form late, you will attract both penalty fees and a 10% penalty on any VAT amount due to SARS, which they do not receive timeously. These will also accrue interest. These will continue to accrue until you settle the amount due. VAT refunds for other periods will also not be processed to your account until your overall account is no longer in arrears, and all form submissions are completed.

Being a VAT-registered vendor in South Africa has many perks for doing business. Luckily, SARS has done its best to simplify filing VAT returns through the eFiling system, and the bulk of the work can be done easily online without the need to visit a SARS branch.

Keep Reading

How Much Is the VAT Threshold?

How Much Is the VAT Threshold?

How to Register for VAT Online

How to Register for VAT Online

Today, we look in-depth at the VAT registration process, how to do it online, and everything else you need to know

How To Check VAT Refund Status

How To Check VAT Refund Status

Today we will walk you through how to How To Check VAT Refund Status in South Africa, as well as some other tips and tricks around refunds. 

Who Qualifies To Pay VAT In South Africa?

Who Qualifies To Pay VAT In South Africa?

Today we are looking further at when a business is required to ‘pay VAT’, or rather, when they have to register as a VAT vendor with SARS.

How to Calculate Gross Amount From VAT

How to Calculate Gross Amount From VAT

This explains everything you want to know about calculating gross amount and net amount from VAT.   

How is VAT Calculated in South Africa?

How is VAT Calculated in South Africa?

In this extensive guide, we'll delve into the workings of VAT calculation in South Africa, providing insights into subtracting VAT from an amount

How To Calculate Customs VAT And Duties

How To Calculate Customs VAT And Duties

We are looking into VAT and duty more closely, with some important information you should be aware of if you are importing and exporting goods

How Much Turnover Is Required For VAT Registration?

How Much Turnover Is Required For VAT Registration?

To register for VAT in South Africa, you have to meet certain minimums set by SARS. Here’s everything you need to know about this.

What Kind Of Tax Is VAT?

What Kind Of Tax Is VAT?

VAT is payable to the Revenue Service, or SARS. Businesses that meet specific turnover thresholds are required to register for VAT with SARS

How to Complete a VAT Return in South Africa

How to Complete a VAT Return in South Africa

This article explains everything you want to know about completing a VAT return in South Africa.  

How to Do A VAT Registration On eFiling

How to Do A VAT Registration On eFiling

There are different methods you can consider to register for VAT. This guide explains how you can do a VAT registration on eFiling. 

Does Gross Invoice Amount Include VAT?

Does Gross Invoice Amount Include VAT?

This article aims to clarify whether the gross invoice amount includes VAT in South Africa, explain the concept of the gross value of an invoice

Which Incomes Are Taxable Under PAYE And VAT

Which Incomes Are Taxable Under PAYE And VAT

This post will delve into the details to better understand which wages are subject to taxation under PAYE and VAT.

What Are the Products On Which No VAT Is Charged?

What Are the Products On Which No VAT Is Charged?

Let's delve into the products exempt from VAT in South Africa and compare zero-rated and exempt supplies.

How To Add VAT Number To Quickbooks Invoice in South Africa

How To Add VAT Number To Quickbooks Invoice in South Africa

Today, we will walk you through adding your VAT details to your QuickBooks invoices and other related tasks