SARS Auto-Assessments: What, How, Where?

Time to submit your tax return

 Here’s the inside track.

How we work. How we exercise. How we shop. Everything has changed this year, and it’s no different with our tax! SARS has made a few major procedural changes to tax assessments in 2020, including the fact that you cannot visit a SARS branch in person without an appointment.

The other major change is the introduction of auto-assessments this year for non-provisional taxpayers. You can start submitting your tax return from 1 September but there is also a chance that you’ve been sent an auto-assessment by SARS – before you’ve even had the chance to submit your own.

 Here’s the lowdown on these:

 Who is receiving these auto-assessments?

It seems that these auto-assessments are causing anxiety for some people, in what is already a very stressful year! Don’t worry – just because SARS has auto-completed part of your tax return, it doesn’t mean that you can’t amend it. They are just trying to speed up and simplify the assessment process in general.

 It seems that SARS is sending these auto-assessments to people whose entire income is reflected in tax certificates from third parties. Yes, you may not know it, but SARS is already collecting this information on your behalf, and they have been doing it for some time. These could include certificates from your employer, your medical aid company, your RA (retirement annuity) and other financial institutions. At this stage, SARS is assuming that all information provided by these third parties is correct and that no further information is needed from you as the taxpayer.

What shall I do when I receive one?

Receive an SMS from SARS in August? You should be directed to eFiling or the mobile app, where you can either Accept or Edit the return provided. If you’re lucky enough to have a negative amount listed on this auto-assessment, this means that SARS owes YOU money, so make sure that they have your correct banking details.

 Either way, while it’s more convenient to just go along with whatever SARS has calculated, it is still your responsibility as the taxpayer to double-check all information provided by the third parties in those certificates and notify SARS if anything is incorrect, or missing.

Here are some things to think about:

  • Bear in mind that if you over- or under-declare your income, this could be considered a criminal offence if done deliberately, so be extra diligent about checking the figures that have been provided.
  • Check your IRP5/IT3(a) and other certificates like your medical aid certificates against the information supplied in the assessment. If you don’t have those certificates yourself, then request a copy from the institution such as your medical aid.
  • If you have a more complex return, including for example a travel allowance, you need to be extra thorough about checking the return.
  • Bear in mind that SARS could have left out things that are deductible such as donations you made during the year. You may also need to declare additional income that does not appear in formal certificates from institutions.
  • Perhaps you set up a home office this year because of COVID and would like to work these expenses as deductions into your tax return? This would be new information that isn’t included in the auto-assessment.
  • Another piece of information that SARS may not have listed for you is capital gains if you sold a certain type of asset.

If you’re confident that all information in the auto-assessment is correct, then you can simply hit Accept and you do not have to complete a return yourself. You have until 16 November 2020 to accept the assessment.

Ultimately, while SARS has done some of the hard work for you – the responsibility still lies with you as the taxpayer to confirm or correct the information within the assessment. Happy filing!

Have you received a SARS auto-assessment SMS?

Until next time.

The Wise About Life Team


  • good Day

    Thanks for the Info really appreciate
    when will you send the forms to be filled in as i was unable t o get to your office for a few years

    please advise soonest

  • I wish it was that easy.My details are not updated with SARS, like phone no,banking account and I’m back on my maidens name so I can’t do anything.

  • I fail to register when I register it reads as follows you are already registered login when I log in I dont know you

  • Yes I did receive SARS SMS . I have try to do refilling I went through all steps but the last steps to click submit to SARS it didn’t gave me option .so I am requesting to go to SARS to submit manual at Randfontein

  • I have never received any auto assessment from SARS. I have been ripped off by SARS my Provident Fund from Liberty, SARS took it all and it was not my fault. My employer was not complying with SARS instead of sueing or give me an advise they took my R18 605,80 . I struggled and stressed. The company was accountant was one who use to submit for us. But all of a sudden SARS took my money without my knowledge and they did not even negotiate with me. My child was under severe stress cause I was going to pay her fees and clothes for her.

    If you can help me with that cause even to-date I m still in denial.

  • Hi I haven’t submitted yet however I owe tax though I haven’t submitte medical aid and I also have travel allowance on my pay.


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