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56,000 income tax returns outstanding

Published:Wednesday | March 31, 2010 | 12:00 AM

More than 56,000 taxpayers have filed their returns within the March 15 deadline, according to Tax Administration Services Department (TASD), which says a fifth of the number, 11,242, are organisations.

The other 44,786 are self-employed individuals - a group that includes professionals, such as lawyers and doctors.

"Failure to file notices have been prepared and will be mailed, giving 14 days in which to respond," stated the TASD in a press release yesterday.

TASD was up to press time was still tabulating whether the number of non-filers were equivalent to previous periods, but this time the tax agencies are going immediately after those who missed their filing deadlines. A failure to file is not necessarily equivalent to failure to pay, but it is not uncommon for payment to be presented with the returns.

The reverse

"You can have the reverse where some file returns and don't pay but there is hardly a case where an amount is paid and no return is filed," said Meris Haughton, director of communication at the TASD.

"Some may also pay on account — that is, based on the quarterly estimated returns — but the return for the period may still be outstanding," she added.

According to Haughton the self-employed non-filers include professionals.

"We have not analysed the data to determine which particular group/sector is particularly delinquent. This will be done following the notice period as we finalise our audit/investigation strategies, and then focus our resources on the most critical areas," Haughton said.

300 per cent interest

Distribution of the 'failure to file' notices will begin April 6.

In the absence of declared returns, the TASD said it will be generating estimated income tax assessments for the non-filers which will be subjected to the maximum 300 per cent in interest per annum, calculated on a daily basis.

The tax authority said it may also exercise the option to take persons to court for failing to file their returns, where one can be fined up to $10,000 for each outstanding return or be imprisoned for up to a year.

Where cases are successfully prosecuted, in addition to the court penalty, the delinquent taxpayer will be obligated to file the returns and pay the outstanding amount.