SARS branches to remain closed – as frustrations grow over Adobe Flash and online filing

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The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has announced that it will keep its physical branches closed due to the second wave of Covid-19 currently affecting the country.

The revenue collector previously announced that its branches will reopen on Jan. 18, 2021. However, SARS management has decided to extend the suspension of physical visits to SARS branches until further notice, while continuing to use branches. virtual services to serve taxpayers.

“All offices will continue to operate and serve the public remotely through our digital channels until further notice. Branches will also engage with taxpayers through the use of virtual meetings using Microsoft Teams, ”he said.

SARS said all members of the public should take note of the following:

  • All new bookings through the SARS website will be honored through virtual engagement – Microsoft Teams or phone engagement;
  • The SARS Contact Center will continue to respond to all inquiries from members of the public;
  • All South African ports of entry occupied by SARS customs officers will continue to operate during this lockdown period. Please note that strict social distancing measures will apply and all members of the public are required to properly wear masks at all times when entering a SARS Customs building or when engaging with officers customs. No access will be allowed without wearing a mask;
  • All provisional taxpayers will be required to file their returns by the January 29, 2021 deadline using the electronic channels above or by visiting the virtual branch for assistance.
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“In light of the evolving situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, SARS is confident that transactions through virtual branches will be the only means by which it will continue to provide its public services to taxpayers for the foreseeable future. SARS will also continue to help taxpayers through its contact center.

“SARS management believes the above arrangement will continue to allow taxpayers to deal smoothly with SARS while ensuring compliance with Covid-19 protocols, as well as protecting taxpayers and employees.”

Adobe flash

The decision to keep branches closed will frustrate some taxpayers who have had issues with SARS online filing services.

A number of readers have complained to BusinessTech that these issues are caused by the outdated Adobe Flash Player, which was officially deprecated on December 31, 2020.

SARS says it is aware of the problem and that some forms are not loading correctly due to the end of Adobe Flash.

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“We are currently working to resolve the issue and will advise you once the issue is resolved. We sincerely apologize for the current inconvenience, ”he said.

In December, SARS warned taxpayers that it may take time to remove all of its services from Adobe Flash. The revenue collector said the problem he was facing was twofold.

“Adobe will actually stop supporting its Flash technology, which means that no upgrades or solutions will be provided for issues that arise after December 2020.

“Second, some tech companies that provide browser functionality have decided not to support Adobe Flash on their platforms after December 2020, which means any feature that uses Adobe Flash will not work if the browser is upgraded. to the latest version. “

SARS said it anticipated this scenario and is in the process of mitigating risk and ensuring easy and transparent service for taxpayers, tax professionals and traders who interact with the revenue department.

“As a result, SARS has been busy replacing forms using Adobe Flash with the latest HTML5 technology.”

The revenue collector said he gave priority to transferring all forms used for major taxes, including personal, business, trust, IRP6 interim income tax returns as well as the form used for payroll taxes to the HTML5 platform.

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SARS said interim taxpayers who are required to file their annual tax returns before January 29, 2021 can use eFiling and SARS MobiApp.

While the gradual introduction of HTML5 by SARS has focused on the main tax types with high volume online submissions, there are some forms that include registration and objection forms, as well as other smaller taxes with lower volumes, which will remain on Adobe Flash post-December 2020, he says.

“It could cause problems in these low volume areas if Microsoft also discontinued Adobe Flash support earlier than we think.

“It is for this reason that SARS has asked people to use two browsers (Edge and Chrome) in the meantime when interacting with SARS in these low volume areas, while SARS goes entirely to HTML5” , did he declare.

SARS has said it has committed to migrating all remaining forms to HTML5 in 2021.


Read: South Africa made a major tax change in early January – here’s what you need to know

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