Online tax filing warning for South Africans 

South Africans should be aware of the heightened risk of their eFilings being hacked during the 2024 tax season and take steps to prevent it.

This is according to Sidney Fletcher, Tax Consulting SA’s senior manager of trust and deceased estate tax compliance.

Earlier this month, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) announced the filing dates for tax season 2024, which will open in July.

The tax season for individual taxpayers (non-provisional) will open on 15 July 2024 and run until 21 October 2024.

Auto-assessment notices will start going out from 1 to 14 July 2024.

The filing season for provisional taxpayers will run from 15 July 2024 to 20 January 2025, and for trusts, from 16 September 2024 to 20 January 2025.

Ahead of the 2024 tax season, SARS said individual taxpayers should ensure they have received their IRP5/IT3(a) and other tax certificates, such as medical aid, retirement annuity fund, and any other third-party data relevant to determining their tax obligations.

Third parties would have already been sending this data to the taxman for processing.

Information on any auto-assessment changes for 2024 will also still be communicated.

The tax authority recommended that taxpayers make use of eFiling or the SARS MobiApp to handle their tax affairs and avoid trying to do it over the phone or in person.

Remain vigilant

Fletcher said that as the 2024 income tax filing season approaches, taxpayers are advised to be on high alert. 

He said reports of eFiling profile hackings have been on the rise, with fraudsters gaining unauthorised access to taxpayer and tax practitioner profiles.

“The prevalence of these profile hijackings is expected to surge with the onset of the tax filing season, posing a grave threat to taxpayers’ sensitive tax information,” he warned. 

“Cybercriminals are targeting both individual taxpayers and tax practitioners, exploiting vulnerabilities in eFiling security protocols to alter login details and banking information to claim fraudulent refunds against taxpayer accounts.”

With the 2024 Filing Season commencing on 15 July, scammers have a wide window of opportunity. 

In particular, taxpayers awaiting refunds are prime targets for scammers who exploit the anticipation of taxpayers awaiting refunds to carry out fraudulent activities.

Fletcher said that despite SARS’s assurances that eFiling profiles have not been hacked, the reality of compromised profiles cannot be ignored. 

“Taxpayers and tax practitioners must take proactive steps to protect their own and their clients’ eFiling profiles and tax data,” he said.

Fletcher provided the following protective measures to keep your tax profile safe –

  • Robust password protection: Ensure robust password protection, utilising multi-factor authentication for added security.
  • Updated contact details: Keep your SARS contact details updated to receive notifications of any SARS assessments generated.
  • Regular monitoring: Regularly monitor activity on your eFiling profile for any suspicious activity.
  • Alert SARS: Report any suspicious activity or unauthorised access to your eFiling profile to SARS.
  • Access to eFiling: If you have shared access to your eFiling profile with a tax practitioner, ensure your tax practitioner has the necessary eFiling security controls in place to protect your tax data.

Ultimately, Fletcher warned taxpayers to just remain watchful and take active steps to safeguard their tax profiles.

“Staying informed about the latest cybersecurity threats against your tax information and adhering to best practices recommended by experts is essential for maintaining the integrity of your tax data,” he said.

“In light of these escalating risks, it’s crucial for taxpayers to remain vigilant and proactive in protecting their tax profiles.”

“By taking proactive measures and staying informed, taxpayers can mitigate the risk of falling victim to eFiling profile hijackings and safeguard their tax data and financial well-being.”


Top JSE indices