How to file a tax return

Why is it needed and responsibility? Do you have medical aid, Working on commission, retirement annuities, property, investment income. What to declare and what you don’t need to.

SARS (South African Revenue Service) deals with all tax related applications, submissions, queries in South Africa.

Contact details: 0800 007277



Income tax return

Two ways to do submissions to SARS:

eFiling and manual submission at SARS branch

Docs required for Income tax registration:

ID book, Certified copy of ID, Proof of residence, original bank statement. (Not older than three months.

When do you need to submit a return ?

  • Did you conduct any trade in South Africa?
  • Did you receive an allowance such as a travel, subsistence or office bearer allowance?  Check your IRP5/IT3(a) if unsure.
  • Do you hold any funds or assets outside South Africa that have a value of more than R225 000?
  • Did you have a local Capital Gain/Loss exceeding R30 000?
  • Did you receive any income or have a Capital Gain/Loss in a foreign currency?
  • Do you hold any rights in a Controlled Foreign Company?
  • Did you receive an Income Tax Return or were you asked to submit an Income Tax Return for the tax year?
  • Any income of more than R350 001 between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016
  • Do you have income from more than one source?

Types of Income tax returns

  • Normal no additions. E.g. medical aid, retirement annuity
  • Return with medical or retirement annuity
  • Return for commission based employment. Commision must be above 50%. Keep all expenses relating to business. E.g. Petrol Slips, entertainment, gift for clients. Computers bought to do business
  • Return with properties and other investments.




Go to
Click on Register.


Look for the option For Individuals. Click the little blue arrow button to continue.

You will be shown the SARS eFiling Terms and Conditions – read them to understand your rights.
You will need to click the checkbox next to “I accept” and press the Continue button to proceed.

You will then be asked to complete the registration form with your personal details. Some helpful hints:

  • you should only be registering for eFiling if you have a Tax Reference Number already or are in possession of an IT150 Blue Letter from SARS.
    See here for
    how to get a tax reference number.
  • if you are unsure as to whether you need to register for provisional tax, click here to find out.
  • if you are married, be sure to click the correct button for Married in Community of Property. “Married in community of property” is a legal term that means all your assets and income are split evenly between you and your spouse, this information would have been recorded in your marriage contract.
  • if you have a tax practitioner then enter their details here. Your practitioner will have a practitioner registration number in the format of PR-xxxxxx which they should be able to give to you. This will help SARS identify who your practitioner is in case they need to be contacted.
  • be sure to answer the security questions with answers that you will remember. These are used to get your password back if you forget it. When asked for a Helpful Hint question, it is important to make this something that is secure and that nobody else but you is likely to guess, also something that is easily remembered. You don’t want to have to phone SARS to reset this each time you forget.
  • your password must have a number, letter and symbol as well as a capital letter – for example johnRob#1234.

Now click Register

On the next page you will see a list of communication types. SARS wants you to register for certain notifications or messages. You will see:

  • “Provisional Tax (IRP6)” – ONLY if you are registering as a provisional taxpayer do you select this.
  • “Individual Income Tax (ITR12)” all individuals must select this.
  • “IT Admin penalty” – this option must be selected. It is used to send you messages when things go wrong with your tax return.

For each communication type you will need to enter your tax reference number in the box that says “Reference Number” and then select which tax office is the nearest to you. Once you have filled in your details for each selected communication type, press the Register button at the bottom of the form.

Important: The last step is to download a summary of your registration form from SARS eFiling. Click on Home, then Summary, then Declaration to eFile. Complete and sign the form, include a copy of your ID and then either fax these documents to SARS on (011) 602 5312, or send by email to to finalise your eFiling registration.

You are done with registration! In 1 – 2 days time return to, login with the registration details you setup above and click the Returns tab where you will now be able to view your returns for submitting.



Stuck at registration?

After registration, if SARS does not automatically register you and you are stuck, unable to start your tax return, it might be the case that SARS requires further documentation from you. To find out, you can still login to eFiling, then if you click on the User tab at the top you may see a line saying “Pending Registration”. Click this and you will notice a “Case Created” message. Clicking on that should display a letter from SARS asking for a certified ID, proof of address or similar document proof. There will be an option to upload digital copies of these documents directly. This message usually appears 24 – 48 hours after trying to register on eFiling. If you are still having hassles, call SARS on 0800 00 7277.

1.1.1     STEP 1: Get started by logging in

Go to
On the top right-hand corner you will see Register and Log in.


Click Log in and then type in your unique username and password – you will have decided on these when you registered for eFiling.
Didn’t register yet to eFile? See how to register for SARS eFiling step-by-step
If you used to use a tax practitioner and they did this for you, you must request your SARS eFiling login details from them – they belong to you!
Otherwise call SARS ZA on 0800 00 7277 (0800 00 SARS), provide your ID number and some other security details and they will restore access to your eFiling.

Then click Login.

1.1.1     STEP 2: Generate your ITR12 tax return

Make sure that your name appears at the top under Taxpayer List just in case you have logged onto someone else’s SARS eFile page!
If the title of the page is not INCOME TAX WORK PAGE then click the RETURNS button in the menu at the top of the page.
In the menu on the left Returns Issued will open, showing Personal Income Tax (ITR12) and Provisional Tax (IRP6) – click Personal Income Tax (ITR12).

The page title will now be Return Search and should show the ITR12 returns you are busy with.
If you have already created your income tax return for the relevant year (it should be listed), jump to STEP 3 below.
Otherwise, select a tax year from the drop down selector box on the right hand side of the page and click Request Return. This tells SARS you would like to complete a return for that year and they generate it for you.

Step 5

Re-issuing an ID book

You can apply to have your ID book re-issued:

  • If you are married and want to assume the surname of your spouse. You must submit a copy of your marriage certificate, a completed application Form BI-9 and a pay the required fee.
  • If you are a woman and want to apply for a new ID in the name of any of your previous surnames, then documentary proof showing you are entitled to use that surname must be provided (i.e. a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, etc) along with a completed Form BI-9. You will also be required to pay a fee for the re-issue.
  • If your ID book has been lost, stolen or damaged

You can apply for a replacement by:

  • Completing Form BI-9 as well if you have not previously submitted your fingerprints
  • Attaching additional documents as required (e.g. a marriage certificate if you are married)
  • Paying the required fee for the re-issue

In the event you lose, damage or have your ID book stolen, you may request a Temporary Identification Certificate (TIC). This can be done at any office of the Department of Home Affairs and is subject to the verification of your fingerprints


Department website contact numbers

0800 60 11 90

 Passport requirements

Department website contact numbers


Applying through FNB

How does it work?

To register on the Department of Home Affairs website and capture your payment banking details:

To approve the payment and book your appointment at your FNB branch:


Visit the Home Affairs website


Login to your Online Banking profile on the FNB website


Select Smart ID


Select Pay


Select Register and complete all questions


Select eFiling


Capture the OTP to confirm your cellphone number


Select Approve payment


Login to your profile


Go back to the Home Affairs website


Capture the logon OTP received via SMS


Login to your eChannel profile


Complete the application form


Select your FNB branch


Submit the application and upload all supporting documents if applicable


Select a time and date for your appointment


Capture your banking details to make payment


Print the confirmation page


Visit FNB online banking to approve the payment


Visit the FNB branch at the date and time you have selected

You can apply for your passport or Smart ID at any of the following FNB branches:

FNB President Street West


47 Pixley Ka IsakaSeme Street

FNB 4 Merchant Place

Sandton, Johannesburg

Cnr Rivonia Road and Fredman Drive

FNB Centurion Lifestyle


Centurion Lifestyle Centre, c/o Old Johannesburg Road &Lenchen Ave

FNB Menlyn Square


c/o Lois Ave and Gobie Street, Newlands

Costs and documentation

Smart ID

First time ID applicants and minors
There is no cost. If you are applying for a minor, the minor will need to be present at the appointment at the FNB branch.

The cost is R140. Bring your green ID book (or police affidavit in the case of a lost/stolen ID) when you visit the branch.
Citizens born in South Africa who are 60 years old or older get the Smart ID for free.


First time passport applicants and minors
The cost is R400, and together with the minor, you need to bring the following documentation with you to the bank:

Both parent’s IDs (original)

Child’s unabridged birth certificate

In the case of guardianship, bring a copy of the court’s appointment letter

Adults and Renewals
For new passports and renewals where your previous passport has expired, the cost is R400. If your passport was lost or stolen, the cost is R800. Bring your passport (or police affidavit in the case of a lost/stolen passport) when visiting the branch.

The smart ID is currently only available to citizens born in South Africa. Naturalised citizens will have to get a green ID book from a normal of Home Affairs branch.

Your fingerprints and photos will be taken during the appointment at the branch. Once your Smart ID and /or Passport is ready for collection at the branch, you will receive an SMS. Bring your green ID book along when you collect the Smart ID and/or passport.

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