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Understanding SARS Auto-Assessments and Key Tax Filing Dates for 2024

As the mid-year approaches, it’s crucial for South African taxpayers, especially those involved in agricultural consulting, to stay informed about the latest updates from the South African Revenue Service (SARS). This year, SARS will be issuing auto-assessments between 30 June, 2024, and 14 July, 2024. These auto-assessments are an integral part of the tax process, designed to streamline tax compliance and ensure accuracy in tax reporting. The auto-assessment process can seem daunting, but it’s essential to understand how it works to navigate it successfully. Being well-informed can help you avoid common pitfalls and ensure that your tax affairs are in order. In this blog, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the auto-assessment process, offer tips on handling the notifications you will receive, and highlight important tax return filing dates for the 2024 tax year. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge you need to manage your tax responsibilities effectively and avoid any potential issues. Understanding SARS Auto-Assessments SARS has introduced auto-assessments to simplify the tax filing process for many taxpayers. Auto-assessments are pre-populated tax returns generated based on the information SARS has received from employers, financial institutions, and other third-party data providers. If the information in the auto-assessment is accurate, you may not need to submit any additional documentation. However, it is vital to carefully review the auto-assessment to ensure all details are correct. Discrepancies or oversights can lead to errors in your tax return, which might result in penalties or delays in processing your refund. Understanding the process and knowing how to respond to the notifications from SARS will help you stay compliant and avoid any unnecessary complications. We will guide you through the steps to access your auto-assessment, provide best practices for reviewing and confirming the details, and explain what to do if you encounter any issues. Additionally, we will outline the key dates you need to remember for filing your income tax return for the 2024 tax year, ensuring you meet all deadlines and remain in good standing with SARS. Auto-Assessment Notifications During the specified period, you will receive notifications from SARS via SMS and email between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM daily. It’s crucial to understand the content and nature of these notifications to protect yourself from phishing scams. At Pinion SA, we specialise in agricultural consulting and understand the unique challenges faced by farmers and agricultural businesses during tax season. Here’s a detailed guide to help you navigate these notifications safely. No Hyperlinks in Notifications SARS notifications will not contain hyperlinks to eFiling or the MobiApp. This is an important security measure to protect you from phishing scams. As an agricultural consulting firm, we emphasise the importance of cybersecurity in all aspects of business operations. Always log in manually using your credentials to access your tax information. Typing the eFiling URL directly into your web browser ensures that you are navigating to the official SARS website and not a malicious site designed to steal your information. Recognising Official Communications All emails from SARS will come from an @sars.gov.za email address. This is a critical detail to note because phishing attempts often involve emails from addresses that look similar to official ones but have slight variations. In the field of agricultural consulting, we advise our clients to be vigilant about such details to avoid falling victim to scams. Be cautious of any emails from other domains, and if in doubt, verify the email address carefully before taking any action. Steps to Safeguard Your Information 1. Stay Informed As part of our agricultural consulting services, we keep our clients updated on best practices for cybersecurity. Staying informed about how SARS communicates and the typical content of their notifications can help you spot anything suspicious. Agricultural consulting goes beyond just providing advice on farming techniques; it includes ensuring that all aspects of your business, including digital communications, are secure. We regularly share updates and insights about the latest threats and how to counter them, empowering you to recognise and respond to potential scams effectively. 2. Manual Logins Never click on links in emails or SMS messages claiming to be from SARS. Instead, log into eFiling or the MobiApp manually using your credentials. This reduces the risk of accidentally visiting a phishing site. In agricultural consulting, we emphasize the importance of secure practices for all online activities. By manually logging into these platforms, you can ensure that you are accessing the official SARS website and not a malicious site designed to steal your information. This simple step can prevent a host of security issues and keep your sensitive data safe. 3. Check the Source Always ensure that any communication from SARS comes from the official @sars.gov.za email address. If you receive an email from a different domain, do not open any attachments or click on any links. Instead, report it to SARS and seek advice from a trusted source. In our agricultural consulting services, we stress the importance of verifying the authenticity of all communications. Cybercriminals often use fake domains that look similar to official ones to deceive recipients. Being vigilant and checking the source of the email can save you from potential fraud and data breaches. 4. Seek Professional Advice If you have any doubts about the authenticity of a notification, contact a professional. At Pinion SA, our agricultural consulting services include support for tax-related queries. Our team can verify the legitimacy of communications and guide you through the necessary steps to ensure your information remains secure. Agricultural consulting is not just about improving agricultural productivity; it’s also about safeguarding your business against various risks, including cyber threats. We provide comprehensive support, helping you to navigate complex tax matters and ensuring that your interactions with SARS are secure and legitimate. In the agricultural sector, managing finances and staying compliant with tax regulations is crucial. With the increasing complexity of tax laws and the rise of cyber threats, having a reliable partner in agricultural consulting can make a significant difference. We provide comprehensive support, from understanding

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SARS Email scams

Safeguarding yourself from SARS Email scams We strongly encourage all clients to remain vigilant against SARS email scams. Some emails may appear authentic but could potentially be fraudulent. If you have any doubts or would like a second opinion, please don’t hesitate to contact your Client Manager. Here are some tips to help you spot a potential email scam: •             Check the sender’s email address: Make sure the email is actually coming from a legitimate SARS email address (e.g. “@sars.gov.za”). Be cautious of emails coming from suspicious or unfamiliar email addresses. •             Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments: Be wary of any email that asks you to click on a link or download an attachment, especially if it prompts you to provide personal or financial information. •             Watch out for spelling and grammar errors: Scammers often make careless mistakes in their emails, such as spelling and grammatical errors. Legitimate organizations like SARS typically have professional email communications. •             Look for urgency or threats: Scammers may try to create a sense of urgency or use threats to pressure you into providing personal information or making payments. SARS would typically not use such tactics in their communications. •             Contact SARS directly: If you receive an email that you suspect may be a scam, do not respond to it. Instead, contact SARS directly through their official website or customer service hotline to verify the legitimacy of the email. By staying vigilant and following these tips, you can protect yourself from falling victim to SARS email scams. Remember, when in doubt, always err on the side of caution and verify the authenticity of any email communication before taking any action. For more information on the above, Kindly contact info@pinionza.com.

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Diesel Rebates for Farmers – Do I qualify and is it worth the effort?

Diesel Rebates for Farmers – Do I qualify and is it worth the effort? The diesel refund system was implemented in 2000 to provide full or partial relief for the general fuel levy and the Road Accident Fund levy to the primary sectors of the economy. It was extended to the manufacturers of foodstuffs in 2023, but only for two years ending 31 March 2025. The rebate can only be claimed by “qualifying industries” when conducting “qualifying activities” using “qualifying equipment or machinery”. A farmer qualifies for 80% of his lawful use (i.e. 80% of the qualifying litres). Steps to claim a Diesel Refund: Remember to carefully review and comply with all requirements, including keeping accurate records, as incorrect refunds may need to be repaid to SARS, along with penalties and interest. The admin process and record-keeping requirements are riddled with red tape and are particularly onerous; Before applying for registration, entities must establish whether they qualify by consulting Note 6 of Part 3 of Schedule No. 6 to the Customs and Excise Act, Act No. 91 of 1964. For more information on the above, Kindly contact info@pinionza.com

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Manage your Top 3 Farm Risks

Manage your Top 3 Farm Risks Farming is a risky business. With changing policies, weather events, global dynamics, and other factors beyond a farmer’s control, it feels less and less predictable each year. While market volatility has been part of agriculture for decades, today’s commodity prices react even more quickly to the influences of a world market, underscoring the need for a strong risk management strategy. As Agri business advisors, we have been on the front lines of helping producers strengthen their operations, protect their margins, and offset ag market risk. Pinion advisors share how to manage your top three farm risks: profitability, market risks and cash flow. One of the most important criteria for making marketing decisions is knowing profitability. “The producer who markets without a good handle on this type of data is more likely to make risk management decisions “reactively” based on emotion, and less likely to make “proactive” decisions based on profitability, which is the real goal of good risk management,” says Eric Osterhaus, Pinion ag marketing strategist. Pinion Pro Tip: Work with a strategic advisor to identify your costs of production, break-evens, and production estimates – the primary drivers in a good marketing plan. The impacts of geopolitical activity, rising input costs, and extreme weather point to volatility ahead, so it’s critical to understand how factors like this could affect your operation. “What if you can’t get the parts or supplies you need? Do you have crop insurance or a livestock loss program in place?” asks Pinion ag advisor, Thomas Eatherly. “If you lose your buyer or customer, where else could you sell?” It’s less about watching for the sky to fall – and more about preparing for a rainy day to mitigate impact. Pinion Pro Tip: Understand your risk factors, mitigate their impacts, and pursue opportunities and solutions to weather ever-changing markets. Cash is king on the farm – especially in a crisis, downturn in the market or other unforeseeable event. Cash and cash flow are going to get your business where you want it to go, despite the uncertainty that you face. “I encourage farmers to get access to cash and capital when you don’t need it, so it’s ready when you do need it,” advises Pinion finance and growth consultant, Peter Martin. “Don’t be afraid to take on a little bit of leverage, especially if it’s used to backstop your working capital.”  Pinion Pro Tip: Focus on improving your cash flow. Examine expenses to increase your profitability and cut the extra fluff, revisit your debt schedule to see if you can optimize your structure, and invest in ways to control your inventory, such as on-farm storage.  For more information on the above, Kindly contact info@pinionza.com.

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