The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has collected more than R1.5-trillion in tax this past financial year.

SARS Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter says this is R17-billion more than initially forecasted in February.

Kieswetter late last week announced the preliminary figures for the tax year to the end of February.

He said a total of 35.5% of this total was personal income tax.

An amount of nearly R556-billion in personal income tax has been collected over the past financial year.

Kieswetter said SARS has, since its formation, collected more than R17.8-trillion in tax revenue.

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The South African Revenue Service has, over the past year, managed to collect close to R50-billion in overdue taxes from individuals and companies.

SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter says though the majority of taxpayers do pay their taxes diligently, many others try to dodge their tax obligations.

Kieswetter says SARS also managed to avoid paying R30-billion in fraudulent tax refunds in the past financial year.

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SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter says streamlining operations and systems at the agency has helped significantly improve tax revenue.

Kieswetter, speaking during an online event hosted by Deloitte, says SARS is constantly at work to improve its technical capabilities in order to deliver better services to taxpayers.

He says part of this strategy is to employ an experienced, qualified, and capable workforce.

The Deloitte “Unpacking the 2022/2023 Budget”online briefing saw a panel of esteemed subject matter experts unpack the key fiscal tax, economic, policy, and political aspects highlighted in the National Budget.

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The SA Revenue Service has announced it had a profitable tax season this year. The revenue paid out more than R17 billion in tax refunds in 2021.

More than 4.3 million non-provisional tax returns had been submitted. In the 2021 tax season, SARS undertook to provide at least 8 out of every 10 taxpayers with an assessment outcome in under 5 seconds. This year 93% of assessments were issued in under 5 seconds. Last year it was 85%.

SARS Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter has outlined the statistics from the tax season which ended on 2 December. He said: “Despite many challenges, including COVID-19 restrictions, load shedding and our own internal limitations, we are pleased that our strategic intent of promoting voluntary compliance is gradually gaining momentum as can be seen in the statistics and trends for this filing season which are very encouraging under the circumstances.”

More people are going online to file their tax returns: “Coincidentally, the shift towards a virtual tax filing season is directly aligned to our vision of building a smart, modern SARS that is trusted and admired,” said Kieswetter.

Of those, over 2.6 million were submitted via eFiling, an increase of 7%, with 523 659 returns submitted via the MobiApp, a 59% increase.

Over 306 000 returns were submitted via SARS branches, this was a 15% decrease.

SARS agents assisted taxpayers through virtual appointments, or later in branches after they reopened on 16 August.

There was also a stern warning for those who did not file their tax returns. SARS would levy penalties from January 2022 where one or more returns are outstanding.