Once upon a time, if you had any changes to make to your personal or business details on file at the South African Revenue Service (SARS), this would have required an in-person visit to make the necessary updates to the tax authority records. Today, thanks to digital technology, the internet and the gift of eFiling, you can update all your information (including your tax residency status) without leaving the house or stepping foot inside a SARS branch. It’s called the RAV01 form, and here’s what you need to know about downloading and using the RAV01 form on eFiling.
What is the RAV01 form?
The RAV01 is an online form that is used to update legal entity (business or personal) information on eFiling.
What is the purpose of the RAV01 form from SARS?
The Registration, Amendments, and Verification (RAV01) form is the means by which individuals, tax practitioners, and registered representatives can view, maintain and update legal entity registration details on eFiling. Such details usually relate to demographic information and specific tax types.
What details can you change using the RAV01 form?
Selected personal information changes such as bank details and name/surname or registered name in the cases of companies and trusts will be allowed. Company registration number and personal ID number details are locked and cannot be changed.
Who can use the RAV01 form?
Tax practitioners (registered with a Recognised Controlling Body (RCB) and SARS and confirmed by the RCB to SARS) can:
- Update and maintain client registration details on the “Registration, Amendment and Verification” (RAV01) form by using the “Maintain SARS Registered Details” option on eFiling.
Unregistered Tax Practitioners must use the RAV01 form to apply for Tax Practitioner registration on eFiling:
- They will need to select their relevant RCB from a drop-down list.
- They will only be acknowledged as fully compliant and their status updated to “Registered” (from the current “Inactive” status) once the relevant RCB has also submitted their details to SARS.
Registered Representatives (e.g. Public Officers) can:
- Update or maintain a company’s registration details on the RAV01 form.
- Submit new tax type registration applications using the RAV01 form.
Users who have access to a company’s eFiling profile can:
- Update and maintain their company’s tax type specific registration details in accordance with the specific user rights in their eFiling user profile.
How do you inform SARS that you wish to change your tax residency status?
One of the most important details for a taxpayer is their tax residency status. This determines how SARS is allowed to tax you. If you are a tax resident, SARS can tax you on both your domestic and foreign income. If you are a tax non-resident, SARS can only tax you on income sourced in South Africa.
When formal emigration was phased out, this caused a fair amount of confusion as to how individuals were meant to indicate to SARS that their tax residency status had changed.
- It is a legal requirement for individuals to inform SARS of any changes in their registered details within 21 days of the change. This includes tax residency status.
- Should an individual neglect to inform SARS, they will be subject to taxation on their worldwide income, because SARS will treat them as a tax resident by default.
What is the process of ceasing tax residency in SA?
It was initially thought that an individual could inform SARS that they had ceased tax residency simply by ticking the relevant status checkbox on their final ITR12 tax return to indicate that their residency had ceased in the relevant year of assessment.
However, in 2022 this checkbox has been deactivated. This is because SARS never meant for it to be used as an official route to cease tax residency. Instead, it was meant to be used as a means for an individual to note to SARS in their tax return that they had previously concluded their tax residency. Simply ticking the box is insufficient to show SARS proof that the individual intended to cease tax residency, which is why it was removed. Additional documentation is required. A later communication from SARS issued in July 2022 clarified that individuals were to use the Registration, Amendments And Verification Form (RAV01) on eFiling in order to note that they have ceased their tax residency.
What happens once you’ve updated your RAV01 form?
Once your taxpayer registered details have been updated, a case will be opened with SARS through which they will investigate and confirm your tax residency status. This will necessitate the request of certain supporting documentation which you will need to furnish to support your assertion that you have ceased to be a tax resident in South Africa. This documentation (which you can submit online) serves to provide conclusive proof that you intend to live abroad permanently.
What documentation will you need to support the changes in your RAV01 form when completing tax emigration?
- Copies of your passports, including all entry and exit stamps to evidence the fact that you have left South Africa
- Copy of your visa/residency permit/citizenship documentation or foreign passport to evidence the fact that you have taken up residency elsewhere
- A signed declaration detailing the grounds on which you justify your tax non-residency
- A statement of your personal assets and liabilities (including an accurate valuation of each) that you held the day before you ceased tax residency (i.e: the day before you left SA)
- A motivational letter that outlines and clarifies your legal argument to SARS for changing your tax status to non-resident.
Depending on the grounds on which you are ceasing tax residency, SARS might require additional documentation. There are three ways you can cease tax residency:
- By application of the physical presence test
- By application of the ordinarily resident test
- By application of a Double Tax Agreement, where relevant.
Don’t forget: when you cease to be a tax resident, this is an automatic deemed capital gains disposal event. This means that if you have (or had) any assets that would be subject to such capital gains tax, you will need to submit documentation for each such asset.
After SARS has reviewed your documentation in line with your assertion that you have ceased tax residency, they will approve your application and your next ITR12 will be pre-populated with the date on which your tax residency status changed.
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