The relationship between taxpayers and government is crucial in order to have a viable democracy said Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Speaking at the launch of the 2012 tax season, Gordhan said: "Governments and the fiscal strength of governments play a very important part in sustaining both the government itself and the economy more generally."
"That relationship between taxpayer and government and government and the citizen generally is a crucial relationship that we need to sustain if we are going to have a viable and meaningful democracy ."
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) expects over five million taxpayers to submit their income tax returns over the next five months.
"What we are trying to generate is the right kind of values in our society, values that say we must be honest about what we earn, values that say that we must declare honestly, values which say that we recognise that our taxes are going to contribute to the wellbeing of other South Africans that are not as well off as we are."
"There's the value of solidarity that we must be mindful of," explained Gordhan.
He thanked the public "for their loyalty to the country, enabling government to do what it has done in the past 18 years - some of which could have been done differently and some which could have been done better".
In the current tax season, 60% of taxpayers will receive refunds while 20% will be tax neutral and 20% will owe additional tax.
Tax season for individuals opened for South Africans with people being able to complete their tax returns via eFiling.
By 11 pm last night, 18 031 taxpayers had already filed their returns.
To date, approximately 10.7 million pre-populated tax returns are awaiting completion and submission by taxpayers. This is because the Revenue Service pre-populates the returns due to IRP5 forms it receives.
Taxpayers can now expect quicker assessments of their returns, with assessment now expected to take an average of three minutes and refunds to taxpayers to be paid into their accounts the next day. Those who visit SARS branches will leave with their assessments.
Additionally, a new e-Filing application and cellphone filing will come online. The application and cellphone filing will be available on iPads and smart phones, with a mobi site being developed for cellphone users.
SARS Commissioner Oupa Magashula said: "Final testing will be done in the next few weeks. It will happen in this tax filing season of the next five months. Final testing will be done in the next six or seven weeks."
Taxpayers are invited via Facebook and the SARS website to partake in the pilot service.
SARS has also developed a Help-You-eFile service that will give taxpayers an option to contact the SARS contact centre agent while filling out their eFiling returns. The service will allow the agent to see exactly what the taxpayer is seeing and doing on their computer in real time.
Additionally, those who choose not to be compliant must be brought to book. The minister said: "Those who choose to be non-compliant must bear brunt of enforcement, which is a crucial part of keeping social balances right in any society around us."
For taxpayers submitting manual returns via post or a SARS drop box, they have until 28 September to file, while non-provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via eFiling or at a SARS branch have until 23 November 2012 to make their submissions.
Provisional taxpayers who submit their returns via eFiling have until 31 January 2013 to do so.
Last year a total of R251.6 billion was contributed to the country by an estimated 12 million individual taxpayers. - SAnews.gov.za