Individual Tax Return: Should you DIY or hire a pro?
Late filing or payment of taxes results in penalties and interest. But with an accountant managing your tax compliance for you, you won’t miss your deadlines and tax season will no longer induce sleepless nights.
Plus, an accountant is often able to reduce the amount of tax you need to pay simply because of their depth of knowledge and expertise in ensuring you get the most beneficial return for your situation.
DIY or pro – what’s the difference?
SARS’ online eFiling system is world-class. Here you can download your tax forms, complete them and submit them to SARS. Providing you’re not a new taxpayer, all you need are your tax certificates (IRP5 from your employer, and your medical aid and RA certificates) so you can claim allowable deductions. Other than an internet connection and your time, eFiling is free.
On the other hand, an accountant or tax consultant will get all your tax information from you, and they’ll complete the forms and file your return. All you need to do is provide what’s needed and pay for their services.
When you use an accountant to file your tax return, they’ll:
- Check if you need to register and submit an individual income tax return by assessing your situation.
- Deal with SARS for you. No wasted time hanging around at SARS in long queues.
- Help you with provisional tax submissions if needed.
- Share their expert knowledge and experience to ensure you get the most beneficial return for your situation.
- Help you avoid prosecution by putting together a voluntary disclosure (VDP) application if you’re facing penalties or have outstanding tax affairs.
- Maintain and store your tax records and documents for you for the compulsory five-year period.
When deciding whether to do your return yourself or hand it over to the professionals, here are a few things to consider:
- How complicated is your tax? Do you just receive a salary or do you have other sources of income that need to be declared?
- How well do you know the tax laws? Do you understand what needs to be declared and what you can deduct or claim?
- How much spare time do you have? If you have a query that needs personal attention, do you have time to queue at a SARS office?
- How’s your attention to detail? Filling out your tax return incorrectly could mean an unnecessarily large tax bill.
Tax season can be stressful, particularly if you’re not well-versed in ‘all things tax’. Your desk will be covered with paperwork that you’re not sure what to do with, and your deadline will be looming – because who actually tackles their tax return well in advance?