VAT can be a confusing tax type for many businesses to navigate. However, there are advantages to being VAT registered, with the most important being that you can claim back VAT charged by your suppliers to offset the VAT due by your business. It can also make your business seem more professional to business clients and suppliers who are also in the VAT ecosystem. VAT is paid over every 2 months, and will need specific VAT tax forms to be submitted at the same time. Smaller businesses do not have to register for VAT
How to register for VAT on SARS eFiling
To register for VAT via eFiling;
- Log into your eFiling profile.
- Head to SARS Registered Details>Maintain SARS Registered Details. This is accessed via “Home” for individuals and “Organizations” for tax practitioners and company profiles. You will have to agree to a prompt that confirms you are authorized to perform this function by the tax entity.
- On the left-hand menu, click My Tax Products>Revenue>VAT. Select “Add New Product Registration”. This can be used for both brand-new registrations and adding a new VAT branch.
- This will open the RAV01 form with the correct VAT details. Be aware that, for new registrations, you cannot backdate the VAT liability date longer than 6 months before the current date. For existing VAT registrations, there is no backdating at all. If you have liability from before these benchmarks, you must perform your VAT registration at a SARS branch. If the liability date is incorrect on the form, it will warn you and tell you to visit your nearest branch.
- You will then need to enter your Business Activity Code, which can be found on the SARS website. Farming Activity codes are also needed where relevant.
- There is one more mandatory question pertaining to whether or not you have already reached/exceeded the R50,000 floor amount needed to register for VAT. A ‘yes’ answer will proceed to the rest of the registration. A ‘no’ answer will require you to first indicate when and how you expect to reach that threshold.
What documents are needed to register for VAT?
To register for VAT in South Africa, you will need the following:
- The Certificate of Incorporation, which proves CIPC registration.
- 3 months of original banking statements from the business transactional account- no personal transactions are allowed to show
- A stamped statement from the bank
- Proof of trading, typically your latest month’s invoices
- Proof of business address (rental agreement or municipal accounts)
- Copy of the ID of the public officer allowed to transact with SARS regarding VAT
- Copy of the trust deed and authority letter for this person.
These can be submitted electronically on SARS when you register or at a SARS branch.
How long does it take to register for VAT in South Africa?
When you register for VAT through eFiling, or through a branch, you will receive your VAT number immediately unless any risks or inconsistencies are identified in your application.
When must I register for VAT?
VAT is only applicable to entities that conduct business, not every taxpayer. Nor will every business have to register for VAT.
VAT registration becomes compulsory if the value of taxable supplies the entity makes exceeds R1,000,000 in a consecutive 12-month period. There are some circumstances where you can voluntarily register with a lower threshold; however- we will cover them in a moment.
If you hit that R1,000,000 threshold, you must register for VAT within 21-days of the time you reach it. For voluntary registration, you must surpass R50,000 in a 12-month period. There are some other requirements linked to voluntary registration, which can be found in the SARS VAT 404 Guide for Vendors.
Can you get a VAT registration certificate on eFiling?
Yes, you can also obtain your VAT Notice of Registration on eFiling. Simply access your eFiling profile and head to ‘SARS Registered Details’ on the side menu. Select ‘Notice of Registration’ and then the ‘VAT’ option.
Is tax registration the same as VAT?
No, your tax registration number and your VAT registration number are not the same things. Every business needs to be registered for tax and will receive their 10-digit tax registration number when they do so. Think of this as a ‘master’ number that identifies the tax-paying entity to SARS.
If the entity is required to register for VAT (not all are), you will receive a separate 10-digit number pertaining to your VAT payments only. This helps ensure that all VAT payments made are properly tracked and allocated to this tax type on the SARS system.
Whether or not you register voluntarily for VAT is a personal decision. It allows you to claim back VAT paid to your suppliers and can open doors when dealing with larger VAT-registered companies. However, remember that there is a mandatory ceiling after which you have to register for VAT regardless. Registering for VAT on eFiling, and maintaining your submissions there, makes the bi-monthly process of paying VAT easier and is well worth considering.