It’s tax season and taxpayers registered for SARS e-Filing can start filing their personal income tax returns from 1 July 2019. For the over 335 000 people employed within South Africa’s ICT (Information and Communications Technology) sector*, there are several unique tax considerations to be borne in mind when submitting their returns.
That’s according to leading independent telco and ICT services provider ICTGlobe.com which says ICT sector staff should be wary of the recently-announced R500 000 threshold for submitting annual tax returns.
According to SARS, employees enrolled in the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system do not have to file a return if their total income for the year before tax is not more than R500 000, received from a single employer and have no other source of income.
“While it’s tempting to reduce one’s administrative burden by not compiling a tax return, ICT sector staff could be missing out on tax refunds by not filing a return and claiming allowable tax-related deductions,” says Claudia York, ICTGlobe.com group financial manager.
While most of South Africa’s corporate employees know they can claim for such obvious tax-related expenses as medical costs and retirement annuities, staff within the country’s ICT sector are often exposed to unique costs while also operating independently of their colleagues which may affect their tax-related knowledge.
“IT departments can be isolated from the rest of the enterprise while their members are also mobile and working remotely which could result in potential tax claims,” advises York.
She lists some tax-related considerations, in particular, that should be borne in mind by South Africa’s ICT sector staff this coming tax season:
* When it comes to subsistence allowances, mobile or remote workers should remember to keep receipts when the daily rate received from the company is above SARS’s allowance amount of R435 per day.
* Should any sales-related commission received by ICT workers exceed 50% of their total income, they are able to submit allowable business-related expenses to SARS.
* ICT staff with a travel allowance should also determine when they should use a logbook and what the situation is when fleet vehicles or personal vehicles are used.
* If you receive a monthly travel allowance as part of your employee remuneration package for use of your personal vehicle for business purposes, you must keep an annual logbook that will form part of your supporting documentation when submitting your annual tax return to SARS.
* If you receive the right to the use of a company-owned vehicle, you also need to keep a logbook, as you will be taxed on the benefit from the private use of the company asset.
* If you make use of a company-owned fleet vehicle / pool-car, you do not need to keep a logbook as you do not benefit from the private use of these vehicles.
South Africa’s tech-savvy ICT employees should consider downloading the SARS smartphone app designed to streamline their interaction with the country’s revenue authority. The SARS MobiApp is a mobile channel from which you can complete and submit your Income Tax Return after visiting the App Store (for Apple devices) or Google Play Store (for Android devices).
On the SARS MobiApp you can register, complete, save and submit your 2019 return, as well as returns from previous years.
Finally, perhaps the best tax advice for ICT professionals, she says, is to consult their company’s HR department or a dedicated tax practitioner who can advise them on tax-efficient remuneration structuring.