Supporting documents are an important part of the overall SARS ecosystem. They help prove the deductions (and income) you are declaring and help SARS ascertain that your tax return is legitimate and honest. Today, we are unpacking everything around SARS supporting documents that you should know, including some types they ask for and how to present them.
What Supporting Documents Do I Need For A SARS Refund?
For an actual SARS income tax refund, you shouldn’t need any supporting documents at all. Typically, SARS will request supporting documents before you get to the stage where a refund will be processed. However, SARS may ask you to verify that your bank details are still current through supporting documents before releasing a refund.
Either way, simply upload the documents as asked for and indicated and submit them through the eFiling platform. It’s simple and quick to do! Once a request for supporting documents is made, you have 21 days to respond. So monitor your SARS correspondence closely and take action fast if required, or you could delay the processing of your refund or return.
Why Is SARS Asking For Supporting Documents?
Many people confuse a request for supporting documents with a full SARS audit. Unless you have been directly told you are being audited, don’t worry about this. In most cases, SARS is asking for supporting documents because they want to quickly verify the information you have provided to them. This could be regarding your particulars, such as your address or bank account details. It could be to support your declared income amounts (like salary slips), or it could be in support of your deductions (like medical aid certificates). Remember that proving things like your bank account is vital if you want to receive your SARS refund timeously and in the correct place! Additionally, you will probably only have to upload supporting documents for a 3-month period rather than every single deduction or expense.
Submitting your supporting documents is easy, too. When you log back onto eFiling, you will see a button under the return labeled ‘supporting documents’ or ‘documents for review’. Click on this to upload them. Alternatively, most direct communications from SARS asking for supporting documents will tell you exactly where to upload them.
You will submit each document separately and then upload them to SARS as a batch. Make sure the documents are in supported formats (typically PDF, DOC, or JPG files), and that they are not corrupted or password protected. SARS could possibly ask you for further documents down the line, but for most people, it will be a once-off request.
What Supporting Documents Do I Need For SARS Proof of Address?
There are many supporting documents you can use for SARS proof of address, so don’t take our list as final if you are struggling. The most common documents used to prove your address (or your business address) to SARS are:
- Utility accounts
- Bank statements showing your address
- Court-issued documents showing your address, including traffic fines and motor vehicle registration
- Insurance documents displaying your address, like life assurance or health insurance
- Lease agreements from your landlord
- Medical aid statements
- Mortgage documents from the lender
- Telephone and license documents
- Letter from tribal chieftains for informal settlements
In essence, if it is an official document from a third party with some weight (like a bank, lender, or insurance company) that clearly displays your name and place of residence, it is likely to be accepted by SARS as proof of address. They have a full list on their website which you can consult, too. If you have any doubts, reach out to them through the call center and ask for clarification. They are pretty helpful and responsive.
How Long Does SARS Take To Verify Supporting Documents?
SARS suggests a timeline of 21 working days (close to a calendar month) for any verification process. This gives them time to check your documents and request further proof if necessary. However, many supporting documents are verified on a much quicker timeline. Typically it will take just a few days. It will depend on how busy they are at the time you submit your documents, and how complex your case is.
How Do I Know When SARS Will Refund Me?
As with verifying supporting documents, SARS says that refunds will be processed in 21 working days from the point where a refund is approved or your tax return is accepted. There have been some notable issues with the SARS refund process in recent years, however, so it pays to stay on top of the process. If you reach the end of a full month from the time at which the refund was approved, reach out to them and find out what is delaying the process. They may need further input from you, or it could simply be an administrative glitch you need to resolve.
Remember to respond to any request for supporting documents as quickly as you can. This will help to speed up the processing of your tax return (and your SARS refund) as much as possible. Supporting documents are an essential part of proving the claims you make on your tax return, so try to have them in order when you submit your return.
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