Updated 12.06.2021

SARS eFiling: The Ultimate Guide

SARS eFiling is an online platform designed to assist South Africans in submitting their returns and declarations. It’s totally free to use and greatly makes it more convenient for individuals, businesses, and tax practitioners to process tax-related requirements.

Here’s a comprehensive guide that will help you navigate the filing of your tax returns through the SARS eFiling platform.

Do You Need to File for a Tax Return?

If you’re not sure whether you need to submit your ITR12, use the questionnaire provided in the SARS eFiling website.

You can find the link to the questionnaire here.

SARS eFiling Registration Web page

How to Register on the SARS eFiling Platform

To use the SARS eFiling system, you must register on the website first. Make sure you have the following documents and information with you for a seamless registration process:

  • You must be a registered taxpayer with a South African tax reference number
  • A copy of your ID book
  • Proof of residence, i.e. most recent billing statements from the last three months
  • Bank account statements containing transactions from the past three months

If there are any additional documentation required, you must submit them within 21 business days from the request date.

Video above described the SARS eFiling registration Process

When you’re all set, it’s time to start the registration process. To register for SARS eFiling, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the official SARS eFiling website and click the “register now” icon found at the top right portion of the page. 
  2. Select the appropriate type of registration account whether you’re an Individual aiming to file personal tax returns or a Tax Practitioner preparing to submit returns on behalf of a client.
  3. Accept the contents of the Terms and Conditions of using the SARS eFiling platform and click Continue.
  4. Fill in the information required on the online form and submit all the necessary documents.
  5. Choose your desired “Login Name” and “Password“. Enter your “Security PIN” to finish the registration process.

It may take up to 48 hours for SARS to validate and approve your registration.

When you’re registering on the SARS eFiling platform, make sure you configure the settings so that you’ll receive the authorisation letter via email. Email is more convenient to access than SMS, especially when you’re not in the country.

Filing Your Income Tax Return

It’s now time to submit your personal income tax through the SARS eFiling platform. To do this, follow the steps below:

1) Log into the platform

Login on the SARS page using your credentials.

2) Request for your ITR2

Go to the Returns Issued section and select the Personal Income Tax (ITR2) tab. Select the tax year on the right portion of the page and choose the one relevant to the current year.

Select the Request Return button to generate your ITR2 for the chosen year. The requested file will appear on the table below the button.

3) Select the appropriate ITR12

Open the income tax return for the selected tax period to start working on it. This will redirect you to the Income Tax Work Page. The details and the status of your tax return for the year will be displayed here.

Under the Return Type column, you’ll find a link to your ITR12. Click this and you’ll be redirected to the questionnaire-type form.

4) Fill in the details on your income tax return

You’ll see a questionnaire that will confirm if you’re personally filing your tax return.

Answer the items by fully providing all relevant information. You’ll notice that as you select a question, more personal details will be requested to be entered. Details on your bank savings will also be demanded and you must complete this with absolute transparency.

You might get blocked from answering some areas on the form. Answers from previous sections are most probably the cause of this, so make sure you thoroughly review every entry you put in the form.

If you happen to encounter an important section that you can’t access, contact the SARS eFiling team for assistance.

5) Save your entry

Once you’ve checked all the information entered and validated that all entries are correct, factual, and appropriate, it’s time to save your work.

Click the Save Return button to save all the information you’ve inputted. Select Continue on the confirmation message that will appear. You’ll return to the Income Tax Work page where you came before you updated the form.

If you’re curious to see how much refund you’ll receive, try out the SARS tax calculator for free.

6) Submit your ITR12

Video above described how you can submit your ITR12 in SARS eFiling

If you’re ready to file your income tax through SARS eFiling, select the ITR12 file again the same way you did in Step 3.

However, this time, don’t select the Save Return button. Instead, choose the File Return button to submit your tax return.

If a pop-up message appears, read the details in there and see if you missed anything else in the form.

If you can afford the services of a tax accountant, just hire one. They’ll make your filing easier and more effective.

Make Your Tax Accountant Work for You

If you prefer to have a tax practitioner handle the filing of your tax return, you must register them on the SARS eFiling platform. To do this, follow the steps below:

1) Go to the SARS eFiling platform and select the Manage Tax Type Transfer option. This option is found on the SARS homepage and not on the dashboard you see when you log into the system.

2) You’ll arrive at a page that requires your ID Number and Tax Number. Enter the correct information to proceed. 

3) You’ll receive an SMS or an email for the approval of the request. The message will be sent to the contact option you’ve selected during your SARS eFiling account registration.

A one-time pin (OTP) will be sent to the preferred channel and you need to enter this on the page to proceed to the next step.

4) After successfully entering the OTP, you need to accept the conditions for the Tax Type Transfer. Once done, your tax accountant will gain access to your account and will be able to file tax returns for you.

Similarly, if you choose to work on the tax returns yourself without the need of a tax practitioner, you can revoke their access using the SARS eFiling portal.

READ ALSO: How to Get Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa

Income from More Than One Source

The South African tax system works by putting together the gross amount earned from all sources of income and applying a progressive tax rate table to determine your total tax liability as a taxpayer. This means that the greater your total annual income, the higher the tax that needs to be paid on assessment.

So, if you have two income source, you most likely are paying lower than you should. Even if the appropriate tax is applied on each income source, it will still be lower than the amount that needs to be paid when the taxable income sources are combined.

For instance, if you’re earning R200 000 from one source and R300 000 from another, you’ll probably be taxed by around R15 000 and R35 000 respectively. However, the total of R50 000 tax isn’t appropriate under the South African tax system because your combined taxable income amounts to R500 000.

Under the latest tax rate table, the R500 000 income amount is under the bracket that’s taxable up to 22%. This is equivalent to roughly R100 000. In short, you’ve underpaid your tax obligations by R50 000, and SARS may penalize you for doing so.

To avoid getting penalized and paying interest, you must register all your income sources on the SARS eFiling platform. It’s better to overpay your taxes and wait for refund when filing your tax assessment.

Requesting for Changes

If you wish to change any information on the ITR12 form you’ve submitted, you can still revert and update the document before it’s processed. 

To do this, just go to the Income Tax Work page, and select the Request Correction button. Update the necessary information and the file it again for assessment.

Filing a Dispute

Review the assessment on your tax returns the moment you receive it. It’s your right to object wrongfully assessed returns from SARS.

In case you see issues in the calculated tax return, or you find items that can be appealed, you can file a dispute through the SARS eFiling platform.

When filing for an objection, make sure you include the following information:

–   Highlight the portion that’s being disputed. Indicate the description, source code, or amount being disputed.

–   Indicate the reason why the highlighted item is incorrect.

–   Include supporting documents needed to substantiate the objection. For instance, you might have been disallowed for VAT claims because you failed to provide the tax invoice before the audit. You must include the valid tax invoice to your appeal so that SARS can work on the necessary adjustments on your tax returns.

If you’re ready to file for a dispute, follow the steps below:

1) Under the ITA34 file, click the Dispute button.

2) Select whether you need to file a Notice of Objection or a Notice of Appeal. Click the Continue button and confirm the filing of the dispute.

3) Either the NOO1 (Notice of Objection) or the NOA1 (Notice of Appeal) form will appear, depending on the chosen item on the previous step.

4) Fill out the necessary information.

5) Once you’ve finished filling out the form, click on the File button to submit it for assessment.

Objections must be filed within 30 days after SARS has assessed your tax return. In case you fail to file a dispute within the prescribed period, you need to provide reasons for the late submission.

SARS can only grant up to 30 days of extension if they find your reason good enough to defend your late submission.

Tips When Filing Your Tax Return

Here are some tips that will help you file your tax returns better.

–   Don’t forget to click the “Submit” button

It can take a while to complete filling out the online form. After that, you must review the details to make sure all entries are correct before submission.

To spare you the trouble of inputting the details again, the SARS eFiling system allows you to save your work until you’re ready to submit it.

However, this feature can also be a problem if you fail to click the “Submit” button. You might become too relaxed thinking that you’ve submitted your application when you’ve only saved it for review.

Your filing status should show that you’ve submitted your tax returns form. You’ll also receive a notification if you’ve successfully submitted your returns and if there are any supporting documents you need to forward. If you see or receive none of these, check your profile again and make sure you’ve submitted it properly.

–   File your returns right away

Don’t wait for the deadline to file your tax returns. Filing your tax returns when all others are cramming to do the same may cause refund delays.

Filing ahead of time also lets you avoid problems in case the SARS eFiling system encounters issues.

–   Beware of scams

Scammers will take advantage of you during tax season by luring you to share personal information. They’ll send emails and SMS that look legitimate to ask for your login or banking details.

SARS will never send you such messages and ask for personal details. All correspondence will also be found on your inbox inside the SARS eFiling platform. If there are any actions required, you’ll be redirected to the platform for the required response.

–   Seek help

If you’re having trouble filing your taxes even through SARS eFiling, it’s best to seek help from a professional consultant. 

Wrong filing of your tax returns may lead to an audit. Even if you didn’t intentionally put the wrong information on the document, you may still be liable to receive penalties or forfeit your tax refund for misfiling your returns.

Getting Help

In case you have problems with using the SARS eFiling platform, you can contact their support team or visit the nearest SARS branch in your area during office hours.

  •   SARS Contact Centre: 0800 00 SARS (7277)
  •   Email: eFilingAssist@sars.gov.za
  •   Office hours: 08:00 – 17:00 every day, except weekends and public holidays

Answers to email queries can take up to 24 hours or even longer if the message was sent over the weekend. If you have urgent matters that need to be discussed, it’s best to call the contact centre or go to the nearest office. Otherwise, just patiently wait to receive email correspondence.


The SARS eFiling platform makes it easier for South Africans to properly file for tax returns or to declare tax adjustments. You won’t necessarily get a refund when you file for tax returns. You may even have to pay the difference in case you’ve understated your tax obligations, especially if you have additional income sources aside from your regular work as an employee.

Filing tax returns is one of your duties as a responsible citizen. Use the SARS eFiling platform to submit your tax returns and declarations and avoid the hassle of forwarding documents in person.

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