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Taxpayers often receive important-looking documents from various sources and wonder whether to keep them or not, and whether they are required for submitting annual tax returns.

The IRP5 is the most important of those documents for salaried employees, as it details all your earnings and the tax already paid on it by your employer for the year worked.

So, what exactly is it, and how do you go about getting it?

An IRP5 is completed for every employee once every income tax year, with the tax year ending on the last day of February.

It contains all your personal details as well as details of your earnings: whether salary income, a bonus, a fringe benefit or anything else.

It also describes the amounts taken off your salary – deductions such as medical aid and pension, for example.

Importantly, your IRP5 also contains the tax paid or PAYE (Pay As You Earn), which is deducted from your salary each month automatically and paid over to the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

PAYE represents your major contribution to Sars – an amount that has already been paid over to them – which is why this document is the most important one to have in time for tax season.

Sars requests that all employers begin filing and submitting the IRP5s for their employees on April 1. This process is to be completed on May 31, after which employees should start receiving IRP5s from their bosses. Some employers may even give them out sooner.

Tax filing season for salaried employees opens on July 1 and runs until November, so it is a good idea to keep your IRP5 stored safely until the time you need it for filing.

When completing your personal income tax return (officially known as an ITR12), it is very important to make sure that any IRP5 information already entered into your tax return (for example via eFiling) matches the information on the physical document you received from your employer.

Below are some answers to questions frequently asked by taxpayers:

What do I do if the IRP5 from my employer and the information prepopulated on my tax return is different?

You should go back to your employer with both copies, and enquire from payroll which one is correct. Once you know which one has the right information, your employer must either issue you with a new IRP5 or resubmit the corrected one to Sars.

You then need to wait for it to be uploaded before it appears on eFiling.

What if I left my old job and now I work elsewhere – how can I get my IRP5?

If you use eFiling, you can check if the IRP5 data is recorded on your pending return when tax filing season opens in July.
If not, you should contact your old payroll administrator or HR and request the IRP5, which they are legally obliged to have prepared and submitted to Sars.

What if my employer doesn’t give me an IRP5?

Your employer has a duty to prepare and submit an IRP5 on your behalf to Sars. If they have not and do not give you one, then you can report this to Sars. The company will face penalties for not meeting its tax responsibilities as an employer.

What if the company no longer exists or I have lost my old IRP5?

If you lost an old IRP5, you should contact your old employer and request a copy.

If the company no longer exists and you cannot obtain an IRP5, you can go to a police station and swear an affidavit to this effect. You can then go to Sars with some proof of salary, such as an employment contract and bank statements, and sit with a consultant.

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