Xero becomes first accounting software to launch an eFiling trial with the South African Revenue Service


Xero, the global cloud accounting software provider, is announcing the launch of a new suite of cloud services designed to transform the way small businesses and accountants manage VAT. This includes eFiling with SARS, set for launch in Q1 2021.

The three new VAT cloud tools will allow businesses to prepare, store and submit VAT returns to SARS from the Xero platform. Processing VAT can be one of the biggest pain-points for businesses and a significant drain on resources. Technology has gone some way towards easing this, but until now the process could still be disjointed.

The new cloud services are: VAT Return Form, VAT Late Claims functionality and eFiling from the Xero platform to SARS.  These tools are designed to make life easier for SMEs and their advisors by helping to increase efficiency, reduce errors, improve accuracy and give them better control over finances.

This announcement underlines Xero’s commitment to help remove painful admin time by giving people the right tools to transform the way they do business. The VAT Return and Late Claims are live now, with eFiling in a closed beta trial and set for general release in Q1 2021.

Colin Timmis, Country Manager South Africa at Xero said: “This is a game-changer for accountants and small businesses in South Africa and will give them one simple workflow. We’ve worked closely with tax bodies in other markets – like the UK and Australia – to support their drive towards digitisation in the tax industry. These new tools will be a much needed boost for digitisation in SA, in line with SARS’ agenda and that of the wider government.

We need to make the tax process easier so businesses don’t damage their chance of survival with unnecessary penalties or interest. This innovation, along with other Xero tools like data capture tool Hubdoc, will help future-proof businesses.”

Mike Anderson, The National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) Founder & CEO said: “The small business community is already facing so many challenges. As they continue to weather the storm, they need time to focus on their recovery. It’s great to see this kind of innovation helping to automate and digitise processes like VAT – keeping SMEs compliant and giving them time back to focus on the most important things. We hope to see more areas of small business going this way in future.”

Shahied Daniels, Chief Executive of the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) commented: “This is a great step forward in the wider industry’s mission to set Professional Accountants up for the future and with the right tools to embrace 4IR. Professional Accountants have an essential role to play in the future of SA’s economy, and digitisation of processes like VAT will be vital in enabling this.”

Jeanne Viljoen, Project Director for Practices at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) said: “Making tax simpler is key in reducing costs associated with compliance. These VAT tools not only make it easier for businesses to be compliant but also save time. This allows business owners to focus on their business rather than the admin. Embracing technology streamlines processes and creates a collaborative working arrangement between businesses, accounting firms and government.”

Nicole Rousseau, Head of PKF Ignite said: “Xero’s new VAT tools are the solution we have needed for many years to help SMEs, and it will revolutionise the way we advise our clients. This move reaffirms Xero’s commitment and dedication to the small business owner, and we are proud to have been part of the testing team as Xero developed this.”

Amanda Orselli, Head of BDODrive South Africa: “This is a significant step forward for the accounting industry, giving us one platform to monitor and manage VAT compliance for our clients. This speaks to the future of our industry and the role digitisation can play in improving efficiencies and streamlining workflows. It will help us to equip small businesses with the right tools to free them up from admin, so they can remain focussed on growth.”

The Xero VAT tools will be available at no additional charge to all accountants and bookkeepers on the Xero Partner Programme and all Xero small business subscribers. Find out more here. You can find out more about other digital tools in South Africa here.

The VAT Return Form and Late Claims functionality are available for accountants and small businesses to use now. Features include:

VAT201 Return Form:

  • VAT201 return form that meets the requirements and reflects SARS’ version
  • Quick and easy to set up, review and submit in Xero. Subscribers can view the list of transactions that make up each return. This view will allow users to search, sort, or drill down into journals if required

Late Claims:

  • Will allow accountants and SMEs to include transactions from the previous tax period in the current tax period
  • This feature enables the invoice to appear in the correct reporting period, and be added to the next VAT return – without manually having to adjust accounts, or track these invoices to claim

eFiling from Xero:

  • Allows users to file their VAT201 form electronically to SARS from Xero, with local app partner CloudConvert supporting the integration with SARS. Accountants will be able to file – from start to finish – from the Xero platform
  • The process is simple, and submissions made from the Xero platform throughout a business day will be available to be processed by SARS in the evening. Users will be able to check the status of their return the following business day in Xero

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