Johannesburg – A total of 5.32 million income tax returns were submitted during the 2014 tax season, the SA Revenue Service (Sars) said on Thursday.

Of that 4.05m taxpayers (94.49%) submitted their tax returns on time, which was 10.14% higher than the 3.69m last year, Sars said in a statement.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene thanked taxpayers for paying their tax.

“Their continued commitment to the building of a more prosperous South Africa has been one of the cornerstones of our democracy over the past 20 years,” he said in a statement.

“The tax system is a key part of the foundation of a country‚Äôs public finances.”

Tax returns had to be submitted by November 21.

Sars said the number of returns submitted for 2014 was lower than last year’s 6.09 million, but this was due to the introduction of a higher submission threshold.

The new threshold meant taxpayers who earned below R250 000 a year from one employer, with no refund claims on their tax returns, did not have to submit.

However, 207 525 people who were not required to do so submitted their tax returns, compared to 792 928 last year.

Sars said of the 5.32 million returns submitted 4.26 million were returns for the 2014 tax year while 1.02 million people submitted outstanding returns from last year.

A total of 48 586 returns were submitted by trusts.

The 1.02 million outstanding tax returns from the previous year were 34% lower than the 1.55 million outstanding in 2013.

“This is a very encouraging indicator that the administrative penalties Sars imposes for outstanding returns are having the desired effect of improving compliance levels.”

Defaulting taxpayers paid Sars a total of R436 million in penalties.

A total of 2.1 million people received tax refunds totalling R15.2bn.