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Xero partners with SARS for simplified VAT returns



Cloud accounting software provider Xero will allow small businesses and accountants to file VAT returns to SARS via eFiling from the first quarter of next year. Xero is launching three new VAT cloud tools that 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 help SMEs and their advisors increase efficiency, reduce errors, improve accuracy and give them better control over finances. 

The VAT Return and Late Claims are live now, with eFiling in a closed beta trial and set for general release in Q1 2021. 

“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,” says Colin Timmis, Xero country manager for South Africa. “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, founded and CEO of the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC), says: “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.”

Says Shahied Daniels, chief executive of the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA), “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.”  

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.

How it works

Xero provided the following information on the features of the VAT Return Form and Late Claims functionality:

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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