Retrenched or dismissed? You could qualify for UIF Unemployment Benefits

With the recent changes in the economy and with TERS benefits lasting an uncertain amount of time, we realise that retrenchments are sadly a reality.

The UIF’s COVID-19 and lockdown specific benefit, Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS), has helped thousands of employers retain their staff and ensure staff earned some income during the period, however the financial strain that has been placed on employers has led to many having to lay-off their employees.

However, the UIF still offers relief to employees that have been retrenched, dismissed or whose contracts have expired through the unemployment benefits.

1. How does the Unemployment Benefits work?

The UIF will pay up to 238 days to those who have been working and contributing to UIF for 4 years. The UIF rates are determined by a scale of benefits that range between 30-60% of your salary for the first 238 credit days and another flat 20% from 239 days to 365 credit days. Low-income earners receive a higher UIF percentage.

2. Who can apply for the benefits?

Anyone who has been contributing to the Fund and has been retrenched, dismissed or contract has expired can claim. Furthermore, employees who have more than one employer and whose services have been terminated by one employer can still apply. Employees can apply up to 6 months after employment has been terminated.

We are now offering a new service for those wanting to claim for Unemployment Benefits.

Let us at Emma Pardoe Chartered Accountant (SA) assist, apply and advise you on UIF benefits available, if your employment has been terminated recently.

For businesses, it may be a goodwill gesture to assist your retrenched staff with starting these claims, else kindly please pass our details along to those employees so we can assist them directly in their personal capacities.

Should you be interested in our services or have any queries, contact us at  

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Fraudsters are Everywhere: Cybercrime up 667% since Lockdown

It didn’t take the online fraudsters long to realise that the coronavirus lockdown has opened up a whole new avenue of opportunity for them.

Malware, phishing and ransomware attacks are surging, and schemes offering some form of financial relief are particularly evident. All forms of online communication including emails, SMSes and Social Media posts should be treated with caution. We share tips on how to protect yourself and your business in these dangerous times, with news on some of the more common scams going around and a link to the latest examples identified by SARS.

There has been a surge in internet scams over the past three months – from malware, phishing and ransomware to obtaining your log-in details.

Take extra precautions such as dual authorisations for payment, carefully validate new beneficiaries and get your IT staff or consultants to regularly check that no malware is loaded onto your IT platforms.

Recently, SMSes were being sent out from the “Public Investment Corporation (PIC)”, promising money from a “Business Personal Relief Fund”. If you replied, you got an approval letter and money was promised once you paid a “handling fee”. If you Google the PIC, there is no mention of Covid-19 relief money.

SARS have reported scams whereby taxpayers get messages from “SARS” about their income tax return or about an audit on the taxpayer or asking for missing documents and you are asked to disclose confidential information in your reply to “SARS”. See some examples of the latest scams on the SARS “Scams and Phishing Attacks” page.

There are other scams involving Transnet.

Treat emails, SMSes, and Social Media with caution, particularly if you get offered some form of relief.

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Who will Emerge as Winners and Losers in the Post Covid-19 Marketplace?

As we wend our weary way through the pandemic and the lockdown’s economic fallout, let’s not lose sight of the fact that eventually we will inevitably return to some form of “normal”. As the wry Internet joke has it “This too will pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.” We can all of us – businesses, investors, individuals planning our futures – profit from understanding how there will be both winners and losers emerging from this period of fundamental disruption. We analyse the evolving trends that are driving and will continue to drive this process, with examples of those sectors expected to end up as big winners, and of those predicted to be big losers.

Many trends that emerged in the lockdown period will almost certainly continue post Covid-19. Technology, for example, has received a huge boost with products like Zoom now household names.

One thing we shouldn’t forget is that periods of anxiety and boredom provide a perfect platform for creativity to flourish. Hopefully, many of you have taken the extra time that lockdown gave you to flesh out the idea that you have had for many years.

The winners are…  

The big trend of the global lockdown has been the move to working from home which  has worked out well and is set to continue.

There will be many spinoffs from this:

  • Home improvements will benefit as people spending a lot more time at home  will become aware of items that can enhance their houses. Furniture companies will get more business. Redecorating businesses will also see an uptick in their sales as will TV and sound systems suppliers.
  • The businesses where staff work at home will be able to scale back on the size of their offices (there will still be a demand for offices, but it will be reduced). As rent is usually one of the high cost items that most businesses have, this downsizing will contribute to cost reduction. Another cost saving will be in reduced travel costs as staff will continue to take advantage of virtual meetings and save travel time – companies will see less airfares and petrol costs along with reduced accommodation and meal costs.
  • With the reality of climate change and the petrol industry slowly dying, there will be renewed focus on solar and wind energy. This swing to renewable energy will bring in a new surge in investment – something badly needed in the difficult economic times ahead.
  • Smaller towns stand to gain from this as people working from home realise they can relocate to a simpler, healthier lifestyle (a recent survey in New York showed that 50% of those surveyed would like to move out of big cities). Already parts of the Karoo are marketing the attractiveness of living in quieter and cleaner areas and are upgrading technology so that people can work there.  
  • Distributors and online shopping should continue to be amongst the winners as consumers see how convenient and efficient ordering online is.   
  • Health products and pharmaceuticals should also be successful post Covid-19 as people have grasped how important staying healthy is.

And the losers…

  • The property sector has already taken some body blows – the retail sector and shopping malls will need to think creatively as consumers take to online shopping and spending will remain weak for a while. Whilst an obvious solution might be to convert shopping malls into residential units, the potential trend of people moving out of the large cities could negate this. Office blocks will also be under pressure as demand for office space will likely continue to fall. Again, creative thinking may be needed, perhaps along the lines of office “hot seating” i.e. allowing different people to book a desk for say a day or a few days a week, or conversion to residential or small industrial units. Industrial properties may experience some success as distribution centres for online sales grow and companies bring crucial parts of their supply chain back from overseas production.
  • The coal, oil and gas industry will continue to decline. Before Covid-19, many financial institutions were refusing to finance projects in these fields and they expect renewables and electric cars to become more prominent.
  • Tourism and the travel industry will take time to recover as consumer spend will remain muted due to ongoing job losses. This will have knock-on effects on restaurants, hotels and bed and breakfast facilities which additionally have been struggling with lockdown restrictions.

It will take a while for the world and South Africa to recover from Covid-19 with forecasts that the first world will not get back economically to where it was in 2019, until at least 2022. In South Africa it will take even longer.

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Tax Season 2020 will be Easier Thanks to SARS’ New Approach!

SARS has announced changes to this year’s tax filing season, driven partly by its ongoing innovation program and partly by the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst as author Margaret Mitchell pointed out there never is a convenient time for “death, taxes and childbirth”, SARS’ new changes offer time-saving benefits to taxpayers, and it is important to understand how they will impact on us in practice.

To that end we set out how Tax Season 2020 is now split into three time frames. We discuss each of them, with additional insight into the “auto assessment” notices that will be sent via SMS. We end with a table conveniently summarising the deadlines.

Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

This year’s tax season will unfold in a different manner to previous years. These changes have been driven by ongoing innovation at SARS and by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tax season is split into three time frames:

1. April 15 to May 31

This is the period when employers submit their reconciliation of employee earnings and all third party information providers (providers of interest certificates, medical aid certificates, retirement earnings are three examples) send their certificates to SARS and the relevant individuals.

All of the above had to be with SARS by the end of May.

SARS have used this time to verify information from the National Population Register, the Deeds Office and the Companies’ Register.

As all of this information becomes available, SARS have begun populating individuals’ tax returns.

2. June 1 to August 31

Taxpayers need to ensure that all their information is up to date and accurate – for example, if they have moved, they need to reflect their new address on eFiling.  Taxpayers should also be testing their eFiling usernames and passwords and ensuring they can communicate electronically with SARS. They should also verify that all third party information is correct.

SARS will be following up on third party information, checking it for accuracy. In cases where SARS finds substantial non-compliance, they may lay criminal charges against third party information providers (including employers).

Auto Assessments

During this period SARS will issue a large number of taxpayers with auto assessment notices via sms and taxpayers need to check theirs on SARS eFiling or SARS MobiApp and indicate to SARS if they accept the assessment outcome. Where the taxpayer accepts the outcome of the auto-assessment, the taxpayer will not be required to submit a return.

The auto assessment process will take a significant amount of work out of the tax season – many taxpayers benefit by not needing to submit a return and SARS do not need to assist that many people in SARS branches plus they save much admin work.

SARS will notify taxpayers whose third party data is compliant that they may file early i.e. before September 1.

3. September 1 to January 31

SARS will issue a public notice to confirm which taxpayers need to submit a return.

Those taxpayers who file manually at a SARS branch must do so by October 22. Taxpayers must make an appointment online to see an assessor and need to arrive on time for their meeting with a reference number SMSed to them by SARS. Due to the impact of Covid-19, these appointment rules by SARS will be rigidly enforced.  

Non-provisional taxpayers who file electronically have until November 16 to submit their tax return on SARS eFiling.

Provisional taxpayers who complete their return electronically must do so on or by January 31, 2021.  

To summarise due dates:


Type of Taxpayer Channel Due Date
Non-provisional and provisional taxpayers Manually at a SARS Branch 22 October 2020
Non-provisional taxpayers File electronically 16 November 2020
Provisional taxpayers File electronically 31 January 2021

Although there will be the inevitable teething problems with the new approach, it offers time saving for both taxpayers and SARS.

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