Special events and reminders

30-11-2015 – Submission and Payment of VAT201: Registered VAT eFilers

07-12-2015 – Submission and Payment of EMP201

24-12-2015 – Submission VAT201’s category A

31-12-2015 – First provisional tax returns for June and December year ends

31-12-2015 – Submission of PAIA Manuals

07-01-2016 – Submission and payment of EMP201 (December 2015)

15-01-2016 – Employment Equity Online Reporting for 2015

Click here for more SARS Deadlines

Tax returns for the 2015 year of assessment

The Commissioner for SARS gave notice in the recent Government Gazette No. 38874 (dated 12 June 2015) of the persons required to file annual income tax returns for the 2015 year of assessment.  The 2015 year of assessment (for all persons other than companies) is the 12 month period which ended on 28 February 2015.  For companies, this refers to the financial period ending during the 2015 calendar year.

In terms of the notice, any person required to submit an annual tax return for the 2015 tax year must do so within the following prescribed time frames:

  • For a company, within 1 year of its year-end (for example, a company with a financial year-end of 31 March 2015 is required to submit its 2015 tax return by 31 March 2016);
  • For all other taxpayers (including natural persons and trusts), returns are to be submitted at the latest by:
    • 30 September 2015 for persons making use of manual hardcopy returns;
    • 27 November 2015 for persons (excluding taxpayers registered for provisional tax) making use of SARS’ eFiling system; and
    • 29 January 2016 for all provisional taxpayers making use of SARS’ eFiling system.

 As was the case in previous years, companies may only file returns using eFiling – manual returns are no longer allowed in terms of the SARS notice for these taxpayers.

Various criteria are listed in terms of which persons are obliged to submit returns to SARS.  For example, all companies, whether incorporated in South Africa or not, are obliged to submit returns if South Africa is the place from which the company is effectively managed.  Non-tax resident companies, but which were incorporated in South Africa, must also render returns, as well as non-tax resident companies incorporated outside of the Republic and earning income from a South African source.

Taxpayers (excluding companies) are required to submit returns if they carried on any trade in South Africa during the 2015 tax year.  This does not include the mere earning of a salary.  A variety of other factors are listed in terms of which non-company taxpayers are required to submit returns.  The primary exemption from the requirement to submit a return for tax resident natural persons though is if the person earned only a salary from one employer during the year and which did not exceed R350,000, and income from interest for that person was also less than R23,800 (or R34,500 if the person is older than 65).

Although it may in terms of the notice not be required to submit a tax return, or the person may be exempted from doing so in terms of the above, it may still be beneficial to do so – natural person taxpayers are often under the unfortunate impression that the completion of a return necessarily gives rise to the incidence of tax.  This is of course not so and many may have suffered tax consequences during the year already by having amounts deducted from salaries in the form of pay-as-you-earn.  This is of course a mere cash flow mechanism introduced to ensure a steady supply of cash to the fiscus and which contributions are set-off from the annual tax liability when the annual tax return submitted is assessed.  However, the opportunity to negate this is presented through the completion of a tax return and claiming deductible expenses in the form of e.g. medical aid or pension fund contributions.  The principle in this regard is that all income is taxable irrespective of whether a return is completed or not.  However deductions can only be claimed by completing a tax return and natural persons specifically should jump at the opportunity to do so.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. (E & OE)

The PAIA manual: Have you done yours?

If your business is in the private sector and has not drawn up its PAIA manual yet, now is the time to start doing so as PAIA manuals for private bodies must be submitted to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) by 31 December 2015. Do you know who will be the Information Officer (it could be you!) and what information should be included in a PAIA manual? If not, read on to be enlightened.

Which person in an organisation is responsible for the PAIA manual?

The head of a private body is responsible for compiling and submitting the body’s PAIA manual to the SAHRC. In the case of a private company the CEO is the head of the company and normally the Information Officer responsible for the PAIA manual. An Information Officer can also be the person who performs the function equivalent to that of a CEO of a juristic person. The CEO or the person who performs the function equivalent to that of a CEO can also authorise any other person as the Information Officer.

What information should be included in a PAIA manual?

The information required to be included in a PAIA manual includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • The name and contact details of the head of the private body:
    • Telephone number
    • Fax number
    • E-mail address
    • Postal address
    • Street address
  • A list of other legislation applicable to the organisation e.g. the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998, the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962, etc;
  • Lists of records generated by the business in terms of other legislation applicable to the organisation, categorised per Act, for example, list the documents required to be kept by the organisation in terms of the Companies Act 61 of 1973 under a heading titled “Companies Act Records”. Some examples of documents to be listed in terms of the Companies Act are share registers, minutes of meetings of the Board of Directors, and the Memorandum and Articles of Association;
  • Which of the generated records is available automatically without being requested;
  • Which of the generated records is only available upon request;
  • Procedures to be followed and fees payable by a person requesting information; and
  • The procedures available to a person whose request for information has been refused.

The above information is merely a guideline and should not be seen as an exhaustive list.

It is important to keep in mind that different businesses will generate different types of records according to each business’ unique trading environment and information systems. There is no generic list of records applicable to all businesses. Care should thus be taken to include all of the relevant records in the PAIA manual.

How to submit a PAIA manual

No fees are payable when submitting a PAIA manual to the SAHRC.

After completion of the PAIA manual, the head of the organisation must initial each page of the manual and sign in full on the last page.

An original signed hard copy of the PAIA manual must be posted to the SAHRC’s PAIA unit. Signed PAIA manuals may be submitted via email, but an original signed hard copy must still be posted to the PAIA unit.

A note on requests for access to information in terms of the PAIA Act

Anyone and everyone cannot just request information from an organisation in terms of PAIA. A requestor must provide, amongst others, details like their identity, a postal address/fax number in South Africa, and the right which the requestor wants to exercise/protect with an explanation of how the requested information will assist in exercising/protecting that right. A private body has the right to refuse a request for information.

The drawing up of a PAIA manual can be of benefit to a business in more ways than one. While collecting the information to be included in the manual, shortcomings in certain systems or omitted reports which are required by law, for example, can be discovered. If not for the PAIA manual, the business would not have had the opportunity to discover and correct the shortcomings or omissions.

Reference List:

Documents published by the SAHRC on www.sahrc.org.za and accessed on 23 August 2015:

  • Example of a manual for a private body
  • Guidance notes: PAIA manuals
  • Generic version of Section 51 manual for private bodies

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. (E & OE)

To sign or not to sign: Handwritten versus electronic signatures

We all know that a handwritten signature is legally binding on the party who made the signature. But what about an electronic signature? What is an electronic signature? Will a document be legally binding if signed electronically and not by hand? How easy is it to forge an electronic signature? Why should one consider using an electronic signature?

What is an Electronic Signature or e-signature?

An e-signature is not an image of a scanned signature which is copied and pasted into a typed document.

E-signatures can be divided into three categories, being Digital Signatures, Digital Certificates and Advanced Electronic Signatures (AESs). All three of these types of signatures are very reliable. The requirements of your business will determine which one of the three to use. The rest of the article will convey information regarding AESs as they are the category of e-signatures recognised by South African Law whenever a signature is required.

What are the benefits of using AESs?

Making a move to AESs can let things flow faster and smoother in your business while saving you time and money, and even the auditors will be happy because AESs leave an audit trail they can follow.

Once a business starts using AESs, there are certain costs which will be significantly reduced. Some of these costs are:

  • Printing expenses – the business as a whole will use less paper and ink.
  • Courier and postage – documents can be sent electronically via email.
  • Archiving and searching costs – documents can be stored in electronic format and searches can be done electronically when looking for a specific document, instead of filing and paging through piles of paper.

Shorter time delays in certain business processes (e.g. approving quotes for customers) can improve efficiency. AESs are significantly more secure than handwritten signatures due to them being almost impossible to forge, even with the help of powerful computers. The only circumstances where an AES is easily forgeable, is when the signer gives his/her private key out to someone. And finally, adopting AESs will result in your business being more environmentally friendly by saving paper and thus trees and other resources which are in limited supply. 

Why should I trust an AES instead of a handwritten signature?

Even when you are presented with an original document signed by hand, you can’t be 100% sure that it was actually signed by the right person or that the document hasn’t been tampered with, as a handwritten signature can be forged relatively easily. In contrast, AESs require that an accredited authority verify the signer’s identity in person before providing the signer with signing tools.

The electronic signing of a document involves two electronic keys: a private key and a public key. The private key is only known to the signer of the document and the recipient who wants to authenticate the signature. The recipient uses both the public and the private keys to confirm the identity of the signer and that the document was not altered in any way during the transmission process.

Electronic Signatures and the Law

The laws of different countries have different requirements regarding the use of electronic signatures, which will influence which category of e-signature you will choose to use. AESs are recognised by South African Law as a reliable and valid form of signing legally binding documents for more than a decade already.

The biggest benefit of AESs is its low risk of forging and tampering with a document signed by an AES. Despite the fact that AESs offer better protection to users of documents than traditional handwritten signatures, and that the Law already recognises the validity of AESs, there are still those who are resistant to change. Resistance is often the result of ignorance and education about the benefits of AESs will go a long way to increase acceptance of this safer, cheaper and more convenient way of conducting business.

If you would like more information about this topic, feel free to contact us for professional assistance and advice.

Reference List:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. (E & OE)

Nwanda internal news – November / December

1. Awesome Rewards:

Jamie-Lee Pietens – Job well done at Andrew Mentis and Interloc

Siphokazi Kubheka – Excellent work done on Sage Group

2. Office closure:

We wish to notify our clients that our offices will be closed from 21 December 2015 and will reopen on 4 January 2016.

3. Annual Team Building – 20 November 2015:

The Nwanda Team enjoyed a thrilling team building day at the Magaliesberg Canopy Tours zipline.  The commitment of the staff in departing early at 5:30 am ensured that we had a full day of fun.

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4. 2015 Examination results:

Congratulations Brett Beetge on the successful completion of your CTA from Monash University!

We eagerly await the results for the rest of our CTA candidates and undergraduates which will be released in December 2015.