SARS Tax Filing Season 2024: Understanding Auto-Assessments

Tax season can be overwhelming, with lots of paperwork, calculations, and the stress of getting everything right according to the tax law. However, SARS Auto-Assessments aim to make the tax filing process much smoother for approximately 3.5 million taxpayers. This covers around 50% of all Personal Income Taxpayers ("PIT") who are expected to file a tax return. This means that half of the taxpayers who are expected to file a tax return will be auto assessed.

Individual 2024 Income Tax Return Filing Dates

Auto-Assessment Notices 1 – 14 July 2024
Individual Taxpayers (Non-Provisional) 15 July 2024 to 21 October 2024
Provisional Taxpayers 15 July 2024 to 20 January 2025
Trusts 16 September 2024 to 20 January 2025


What is an Auto-Assessment?

SARS uses information provided by your employer, banks, pension funds, medical aid, and other institutions that are required to provide SARS with information about you to calculate your auto-assessment. This means that SARS compiles your assessment using information supplied to them by third parties.

This means that the assessment is estimated because SARS cannot be certain that it has received all the necessary information to automatically assess you. There might be some income sources and certainly expenses that could be tax deductible, of which SARS may not be aware when they complete the auto assessment. As a result, auto-assessments could be incorrect, leading to unrecorded taxable income that could increase your tax liability, or unrecorded tax deductions that could reduce your tax liability.

How Does Auto-Assessment Benefit You?

Once SARS processes your assessment between 1 to 14 July 2024, they will notify you through e-filing or the SARS MobiApp. You can then review the data used to calculate your assessment. Or make it easier for you by notifying your Independent Tax Practitioner (“ITP”) to review the auto assessment. If everything looks good and you agree with the assessment, you must do nothing! You can expect any refund owed to you within approximately 72 hours, provided your banking details are correct.

Before 1 July 2024, make sure to verify your banking details that SARS has on record, as refunds will be deposited into that account. If you're unsure about what to do, you can seek assistance from an ITP. Remember, if SARS underestimated your taxes during the auto-assessment and later makes corrections after you've already received a refund, you'll have to repay the refund to SARS. So, it's important to refrain from spending the refund until your ITP confirms that the revised assessment received from SARS is final. 

What if You Disagree?

Don't worry, you or your tax practitioner have the option to review the assessment and make corrections as necessary. You can access your tax return, make the needed adjustments, and file it by 21 October 2024, which is the due date. By doing this, you ensure that your taxes are accurate and reflect your true tax position. Making these corrections is important because it is a criminal offence to provide SARS with incorrect information or to fail to correct auto-assessments when there are errors that entitle you to a tax refund from SARS or to pay a lower tax liability to SARS.

Get the Assistance of an Independent Tax Practitioner (“ITP”)

Auto-assessments simplify the tax filing process, but they do not relieve you from the responsibility for errors. These errors can lead to penalties of up to 200% and even criminal charges. Therefore, it's important to review your auto-assessment carefully. Enjoy the convenience, but make sure to check it thoroughly to ensure that your tax affairs are in order. 

There are approximately 24000 registered tax practitioners with SARS and many of them are ITP. They have the expertise to make the tax processes easier for you while ensuring that your tax affairs are professionally managed. You can approach any ITP to help you review your auto-assessment, ensuring that you do not inadvertently make incorrect submissions or omissions in your tax return.


This article serves as a general guide. For specific queries or concerns about your tax situation, it's recommended to consult with a SARS-registered Independent Tax Practitioner and visit the SARS website for official information.

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