SA Revenue Service’s mobile app available on iOS and Android

The South African Revenue Service has rolled out its mobile app to Android and iOS mobile operating systems as it seeks to make it easier for citizens to communicate with them and submit tax returns.

In July, declaring the tax filing season “open”, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that taxpayers would be able to file their returns via mobile. He declared that people would be able to complete their e-filing with South African Revenue Service (SARS) via an application on a smartphone or iPad.

Subsequent to that, yesterday SARS “unveiled” its Android and iOS mobile app which is now available on the Google Play Store andApple’s iTunes App Store.

The features as listed:

- It will allow taxpayers to complete and submit their annual Income Tax Returns on their smartphones, tablets or iPads and receive their assessment.

- View, complete and submit your annual basic Income Tax Return (ITR12).

- Save and edit your ITR12 locally on your device.

- Use the tax calculator to get an indication of your assessment outcome.

- View the status of your return once submitted.

- View a summary of your Notice of Assessment (ITA34).

- View a summary your Statement of Account (ITSA).

Doubts remain though over the need for the application, given that the majority of South Africans do not own smartphones or iPads. Tax eFiling is a data and document intensive process which seems best suited to a larger PC / laptop / tablet screen. Add to this that of the approximately 12 million taxpayers, employees (accounting for most of eFiling users) only file their tax returns once a year in South Africa.

Although SARS has been one of the government departments at the forefront of using and innovating with technology in its function, this latest development seems to be a bit overzealous and more concerned with technology for the sake of technology rather than the appropriate use of technology.

SARS says its new app is an “innovation that will appeal to the new generation of mobile taxpayers”. Although a great innovation, it remains to be seen how many of the 12 million taxpayers download and use it, with so far only 40,597 Android versions downloaded (as of 27 September 27 2012).

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