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Tuesday, 09 July 2024 15:59

SAFPS warns of SARS auto assessment scam ahead of the 2024 tax season.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS) has warned taxpayers to be on high alert for new auto assessment scams during the 2024 tax season.

The SAFPS said that it has been monitoring scam activity over the past few years and has noticed a rising trend of auto-assessment fraud in step with the SARS' increased push towards using the tech.

"Over the past five years, the SAFPS has noticed a growing trend of tax scams which are targeting individuals who are desperate for cash," said Manie van Schalkwyk, CEO of SAFPS.

Van Schalkwyk said that taxpayers should not take auto-assessments at face value, and should always check to see if they are legit.

"SARS is increasingly gravitating towards an auto-assessment system for qualifying taxpayers. This means that SARS has already done the tax return on behalf of the individual. They then either qualify for a rebate or pay money back to SARS, "he said.

While SARS's process is legitimate, he warned that scammers have also adopted this trend.

SAFPS said the scam operates as follows:

  • Scammers contact taxpayers impersonating SARS.
  • When targeted taxpayers log on to complete their auto-assessment, they are redirected to a proxy website where scammers will use the information they fill in on the form.
  • The scammers will go as far as to produce a fake proof of payment document indicating that a rebate has been paid into the taxpayer's bank account.

This new scam trend adds to the multitude of other tax-based scams being perpetrated against taxpayers during the tax season.

SARS most recently warned of additional scams in 2024 where criminals are impersonating SARS officials.

In a similar vein to the auto assessment scam, the criminals pose as SARS officials, and lure taxpayers into a trap with an 'Outstanding Tax Payment' notice.

The notice, sent via email, replicates SARS' logo and formatting and warns taxpayers that they will be unable to file their tax return for the 2024 tax season until they pay an outstanding amount attached to their tax profiles.

The scammers warn that failing to pay the amount by a specific date will result in fines, penalties, and potential assessments on a taxpayer's affairs, which could result in conviction and prison time.

Taxpayers can check to see if they are in the auto-assessment population this year by checking their status on the SARS Online Query System (SOQS).