MORE than a million tax returns have been submitted since the start of the tax season on July 1, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said on Monday.

By Monday morning, 22 days after filing season opened, it had received a record number of 1001162 income tax returns, 62% more than in the same period a year ago.

SARS said it had last year taken five weeks to reach the 1-million mark.

"For the corresponding period last year, Sars had received 681497 tax returns. By 7.30am this morning (Monday), 319665 more returns had been submitted compared with the same period last year," it said in a statement.

The highest number of submissions, 82225, was received on July 2 when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced the start of tax season.

SARS said the higher rate of submissions and faster processing of tax returns had enabled it to pay more than R3bn in refunds to 501096 taxpayers in 22 days.

"This is a significant, direct injection into the domestic economy and household incomes. This is in comparison to refunding 323197 taxpayers to the value of almost R2bn in the previous tax season," it said.

Many taxpayers have switched to electronic filing via branches or e-filing. Only 3796 returns had been manually submitted so far, a decrease of 32% from last year.

A total of 620564 returns had been submitted via e-filing - 32% higher than in the same period last year. SARS is testing new submission systems such as filing through tablets and smartphones.

The deadline for manual submissions is September 28 and for electronic submissions November 23.

Sapa