31 August 2015 is the deadline for the 1st 2016 provisional tax return for individuals, trusts and companies with a February year end. It is an often misunderstood tax especially with regard to its workings. This is not helped by the complex rules that apply to provisional tax and the severity of any understatement penalties.

In a nutshell provisional tax is not a separate tax but rather pre-payments towards your income tax liability for a specific tax year and is filed bi-annually. The aim of provisional tax payments is for SARS to collect their taxes on an ongoing basis prior to assessment. The payment of provisional tax also helps taxpayers to fulfill their tax liability by spreading the payments over a year as opposed to a lump sum payment. Once SARS have assessed a taxpayer, the provisional tax payments will be offset against the final liability thereby reducing the final payment.