RSM South Africa

Tax insights

A review of the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme

31 October 2019
The Minister of Finance announced the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP) in his February 2016 budget speech, following the new global standard for the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities.

"Double-dipping" of government grants

5 September 2019
With the current downturn in the South African economy, many small and medium-sized businesses will turn to government to provide them with some sort of relief. This relief would come through the granting of government grants. These companies would then assume that the government grant they received will be exempt from normal tax, which is correct

When does interest paid by SARS accrue to a taxpayer?

7 August 2019
The “gross income” definition in the Income Tax Act, starts as follows: “in the case of any resident, the total amount, in cash or otherwise, received by or accrued to or in favour of such resident; or…”

The new Expat Tax on income earned abroad - Part 2

31 July 2019
From 1 March 2020, South African residents who spend more than 183 days in employment outside the country will be subject to taxation, in South Africa, on any foreign employment income that exceeds R1 million (provided that all other conditions are met). The true cost of this amendment on the pockets of ordinary South African expats

The new Expat Tax on income earned abroad

23 May 2019
Many South African tax residents render services abroad for a period of time during their lives. At present, the Income Tax Act (“the Act”) exempts income received by a South African tax resident, during any year of assessment, if:

Debt relief loopholes

24 April 2019
The Taxation Laws Amendment Bill of 2018 contains amendments that are designed to reduce certain loopholes that previously existed in the debt relief provisions that are contained in Section 19 of the Income Tax Act (“the Act”) and paragraph 12A of the 8th Schedule to the Act (hereinafter referred to as section 19 and paragraph12A).

Religious institutions under the microscope with SARS

15 April 2019
In an effort to improve its revenue collection, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has established an illicit economy unit that will be re-introduced in April 2019 to strengthen its tax collection process.

New anti avoidance tax rules on the use of foreign trusts

11 April 2019
For some time the government has been concerned by the use of interposed foreign trusts to avoid the taxation on controlled foreign companies (CFC’s). New rules were proposed in 2017, but were subsequently withdrawn due to their wide nature and complexity. The Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2018 (Act No.

Sugar coated tax

14 March 2019
The 1st of April 2019 marks a year since the introduction of the Health Promotion Levy on sugary beverages, or “sugar tax” levy as it is commonly referred to.

Another tax on its way - The Carbon Tax Bill

11 March 2019
The Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 04 November 2016, is intended to be a comprehensive framework that will provide guidance in the limitation of greenhouse gas emissions and the future challenges that are likely to arise from climate change.

2019 Budget Speech - Tax Update

21 February 2019
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivered his maiden Budget Speech on 20 February 2019. This comes at a time when the country is grappling with issues of unemployment, corruption, and distress in State Owned Enterprises.

Section 24C - Allowance in respect of future expenditure

15 February 2019
The tax court recently ruled in the case of ABC (Pty) Ltd v The Commissioner for SARS on the application of section 24C of the Income Tax Act (ITA). The section allows a deduction for future expenditure in relation to any year of assessment by the taxpayer.

Changes to the Donations Tax threshold

22 January 2019
In the 2018 budget speech, the Finance Minister proposed a significant number of changes to address the revenue shortfall that the fiscus was facing. One of these proposals was to increase donations tax from 20% to 25% for any donations made by a resident in excess of R30 million. This change has been approved and comes into effect from 1 March 2018.

New regulations imposing VAT on electronic services in South Africa

18 December 2018
On the 24th of October 2018, the National Treasury published new regulations for the purpose of “electronic services” as defined in Section 1 of the Value Added Tax Act (VAT) Act of 1991 but specifically relating to the supply of electronic services and which will come into effect from the 1st of April 2019.

Proposed Amendments to the Doubtful Debt Provisions

2 November 2018
There has been a significant change from previous wording, with the old section 11(j) being repealed and replaced by an entirely new section. While the rate of allowance was not defined in Section 11(j), based on SARS practice, 25% of the provision for bad debts was granted as an allowance.

SARS clamps down on non-compliant corporates

18 October 2018
In terms of the Tax Administration Act No.28 of 2011 (“TAA Act”), with specific reference to Sections 210 and 211, SARS can impose a fixed amount penalty where a taxpayer is non-compliant due to a failure to comply with an obligation imposed in terms of a tax act.

Tax incentives for saving the planet

31 July 2018
Global warming has become a topical issue across the world. The dying of marine life in the sea and dramatic temperature changes across the globe cannot go unnoticed. A lot has to be done to protect Mother Earth. Tax incentives are welcomed by companies as this will boost their after tax profits while at the same time help to save the environment.

Tax refunds - What you need to know

23 July 2018
Most taxpayers are not aware of the requirements for a tax refund to be facilitated and SARS very often will delay paying out the refund.

Tax deadline dates - Simplifying your obligations

2 July 2018
We all know that keeping track of your personal tax filing obligations can be difficult to track at times. To add to the complexity, it does not help that you could potentially be required to address filing obligations for 3 different tax years in one calendar year. We set out below the due dates for all tax return filings in a tax year:

Tax Implications on foreign exchange differences

25 May 2018
International trading has become more and more customary for both individuals and companies, with imports and exports, as well as foreign investment becoming easier as the world becomes smaller with the help of internet, e-commerce, and so forth. This has led to more taxpayers having foreign currency assets and/or liabilities.

Conversion of debt into equity

23 April 2018
South African Revenue Services (“SARS”) in their Tax Laws Amendment Bill of 19 July 2017, supported by the Explanatory Memorandum thereto, acknowledged that a common mechanism used in practice by taxpayers to enable a debtor to settle a debt is for that debt to be converted into equity.

SARS announces prosecution of taxpayers with outstanding returns

20 April 2018
The South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) issued a media release on 16 April 2018 where they advised that they have started, together with the National Prosecuting Authority (“NPA”), to prosecute non-compliant taxpayers who have failed to submit their returns. Taxpayers who are found guilty will have a criminal record.

The effect of land expropriation without compensation on your business

13 April 2018
Land expropriation without compensation is a controversial topic in South Africa. Proponents of this topic mention the following benefits, amongst others: 

Changes to travel reimbursements from 1 March 2018

15 March 2018
Employers are able to compensate their employees, for costs incurred in respect of business travel, in a number of ways. One of the generally accepted methods of compensation is to reimburse the employee based on mileage travelled.

South African Value-Added Tax now at 15%

2 March 2018
Former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced on 21 February 2018 that South Africans would now be paying 15% Value-Added Tax for standard rated supplies as of 01 April 2018.

2018 National Budget Speech - Tax Update

22 February 2018
On 21 February 2018 we were presented with the Budget Speech by current Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba. It was widely accepted that drastic steps would be proposed in the Budget Speech in order to address the revenue shortfall of R48.2 billion, an amount that is slightly lower than the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) of R50.8 billion.

Financial Emigration vs becoming a non-resident for tax purposes

12 February 2018
This article intends to highlight the basic differences between financial emigration and the process of becoming a non-resident of South Africa for tax purposes. There is often confusion between the two concepts, and individuals sometimes incorrectly assume that neither, only one or both may apply to them.

Further tax consequences on disposal of shares by companies

23 November 2017
The release of the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (TLAB) on 25 October 2017 includes a proposal which could have a significant tax impact for companies.  The proposed amendments to Section 22B of the Income Tax Act No.58 of 1962 and Paragraph 43A of the Eighth Schedule to the Income Tax Act No.58 of 1962 aim to inflate the proceeds on disposal of shares by a company

Tax debt compromise - the last resort

17 November 2017
We live in hard times. Economic downturns, rising inflation, unemployment rates and the tightening of purse strings by companies all increase the financial stresses that are synonymous with our times.

The challenges of registering a trust as a taxpayer

3 November 2017
To get onto the SARS register nowadays has proven to be quite challenging and time consuming, even more so for a trust.

Public notice - Transfer Pricing record keeping requirements

23 October 2017
In July of 2016 South African Revenue Services (SARS) issued a draft notice in terms of Section 29 of the Tax Administration Act. The draft notice sets out additional record keeping requirements for transfer pricing transactions.

National Treasury cancels plan to scrap 183-day exemption

18 September 2017
South African Tax Law currently stipulates that if a South African resident works outside the Republic for more than 183 full days (in aggregate) in any 12 month period and for a continuous period exceeding 60 full days during that 12 month period, the foreign employment income earned is exempt from income tax within the Republic irrespective of whether the residen

National Treasury plans to scrap 183-day exemption

8 September 2017
South African Tax Law currently stipulates that if a South African resident works outside the Republic for more than 183 full days (in aggregate) in any 12 month period and for a continuous period exceeding 60 full days during that 12 month period, the foreign employment income earned is exempt from income tax within the Republic irrespective of whether the residen

"Most favoured nation" clause and dividends withholding tax

1 September 2017
The advent of dividends withholding tax (DWT) on 1 April 2012 shifted the liability for tax on dividends from the company to the shareholder.

Transfer Pricing Documentation requirements and country-by-country reporting - The goalposts keep moving

25 August 2017
In October 2016 South African Revenue Services (SARS) issued regulations obligating taxpayers who met certain criteria to maintain and retain specific documentation, as detailed in the regulations, with regards to cross border connected party transactions. Following on from this, they have issued two further documents.

SARS - Know your rights but also your responsibilities

28 July 2017
There has been much ado of late regarding taxpayer refunds that have been delayed by the South African Revenue Service (SARS). Whether this delay has sinister implications is a discussion for another time. Practically the taxpayer must understand what his or her rights are in terms of their refunds.

An employee's guide to understanding your IRP5

19 July 2017
Another tax year has come to an end and the 2017 tax filing season for all individuals opened on 1 July 2017. This is the time when each individual who has received income during the period of 1 March 2016 to 28 February 2017 will need to submit their Income Tax Returns to SARS, either via eFiling or by means of going in to a SARS branch.

Important notification from SARS for all employers

18 July 2017
Notification from SARS for re-submission of 2017 employer annual reconciliation declaration (EMP501) and associated IRP5 /IT3(A) certificates

Bad debt on a foreign loan

15 June 2017
Section 24I requires that a gain or loss on a foreign exchange transaction be included in or deducted from the income of a taxpayer carrying on a trade within the Republic. In essence, section 24I taxes all gains and losses, whether it is realised or not relating to any foreign exchange transactions.

The importance of knowing your provisional tax status

13 June 2017
This article is intended to assist individual taxpayers in understanding their status as a provisional taxpayer. To fully comprehend who qualifies as a provisional taxpayer, we will look at the definition of a provisional taxpayer. A provisional taxpayer is:

Public officers and their duties

24 May 2017
In the Tax Administration Act, South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) sets out the requirements for the public officer of a company. A public officer is an individual who is residing in South Africa and must be a registered taxpayer with SARS. The individual representative who is approved by SARS must be a senior official of the company.

SARS and the taxpayer's rights

9 May 2017
SARS has the power to remove money out of your bank account. What are your rights as the taxpayer? The Tax Administration Act No. 28 of 2011 (TAA) came into effect on 1 October 2012, the main objective of which was to align the tax administration provisions of most of our tax Acts and consolidate these into one piece of legislation.

Transfer Pricing - New record keeping requirements

11 April 2017
In July of 2016 South African Revenue Services issued a draft notice in terms of Section 29 of the Tax Administration Act. The draft notice sets out additional record keeping requirements for transfer pricing transactions.

Should a non-executive director register for VAT?

7 April 2017
As indicated in a previous article published on 17 June 2016, it was uncertain whether or not a non-executive director needs to register for VAT? SARS has now issued Binding Private Ruling 40 and Binding Private Ruling 41 that deals specifically with this question.

Tax considerations surrounding cross border loans

6 April 2017
With the almost non-existent growth in the economy in the last few years, it has become a common practice for taxpayers with foreign shareholding to receive financial assistance from their holding companies. This assistance is generally in the form of loans, with favourable repayment and interest terms.

The Value of Professional Tax Advice

30 March 2017
In this day and age, with tax legislation becoming more complex and the process of applying the law ever more onerous, professional tax advice is valuable.

Time of Supply for Output VAT Deposits

15 March 2017
A fair bit of uncertainty surrounding deposits and the VAT implications would be removed, had the concept been defined in the VAT Act separately. However, the definition of “consideration” in the VAT Act sets out the output tax implications of deposits.

2017 Budget Speech Highlights

23 February 2017
22 February 2017 brought about another Budget speech presentation by Minister Pravin Gordhan. In the build up to the latest Budget, it was clearly advertised that tax proposals were to be introduced to fund significant revenue collections intended to fund budget deficits.

Trusts and Interest Free Loans - Important Legislative Amendments

11 January 2017
In our previous article related to this topic, we highlighted proposed new tax laws that would apply to low or interest free loans made to a trust. Those proposed laws were subject to public comment and, as a result, National Treasury has made substantial revisions to the proposals to be introduced as Section 7C of the Income Tax Act.

Amendments to Deceased Estates

19 December 2016
After recent amendments in the legislation, it has been announced that there will be certain changes in the tax treatment of a Deceased Person and the Deceased Estate.

Section 12H Proposed Amendments

21 November 2016
While boasting the second largest economy in Africa, we as South African citizens cannot hide from the reality of our unequal society. With unemployment hovering around the 25% mark and not being aided by a volatile economy, much has been made of the private sector’s role in uplifting and “saving” the economy.

The Fundamental Difference Between Section 6quat(1) and 6quat(1C) of the Income Tax Act

13 October 2016
Globalisation and foreign trade has been a most relevant and complex issue within the finance world since the dawn of technology. A great deal of services are being provided by South African companies to foreign companies which inherently has brought with it a risk of exposure to double taxation.

Withholding Tax on Interest

6 September 2016
Should withholding tax on interest (WTI) be deducted from a distribution of interest income to a non-resident beneficiary of a South African discretionary trust?

Trusts and interest free loans

19 July 2016
The 2016 Budget Speech contained a proposal to introduce new tax laws targeted at the prevention of estate duty and donations tax avoidance by making use of interest free loans to a trust. National Treasury recently released the Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill that contains the measures intended to give effect to the proposal.

Non-Executive Director and His Home Office

17 June 2016
If you are appointed on a board of directors as a non-executive director, it pays to think twice before you claim any expenses you believe are incurred in the production of your income.

Changes to the Permanent Establishment Definition

8 June 2016
Business profits of a foreign enterprise are taxable in a State only to the extent that the foreign enterprise has a Permanent Establishment (PE) in that state. The definition of a PE in tax treaties is therefore critical in determining if the profits of a non-resident will be taxable in another State.

VAT Registrations - Not as easy as 1, 2, 3

6 May 2016
We as a firm have recently seen an influx of new companies registering with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (“the CIPC”). This is good news as it means that South Africa is seen as a viable investment platform for both foreign and local investors and businesses.

Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme

3 May 2016
The time has come! From 2017 there will be an automatic exchange of information between tax authorities. This means that the tax authority in Mauritius will have to inform the tax authority in South Africa (SARS) about that interest you have earned in your Mauritian bank account.

Update: Tax Clearance Certificates

25 April 2016
On 18 April 2016 the Tax Clearance Certificate application process as we know it was amended by the South African Revenue Service (SARS). This is good news as your Tax Clearance Certificate may now be obtained online via e-filing immediately.

IRP5 and EMP501 Submissions made easy

14 April 2016
SARS has announced that the annual Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) Employer Annual Reconciliation submission season will be open from the 18th of April until the 31st May 2016. During this time the EMP501 reconciliations that cover the period of 1st March 2015 to 29th February 2016 must be submitted.

Section 6quin amendment – Foreign tax credits no longer deductible

14 April 2016
As per Amendment 7 of the Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2015, Sections 1 to 4 of Section 6quin of the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962 have been deleted.

Individual tax deduction for amounts previously included in gross income

6 April 2016
A person may receive remuneration benefits such as maternity leave or retention bonuses by virtue of their employment contact. However, due to unforeseen circumstances the contractual obligations may not end up being fulfilled. The result is that the individual may be required to repay a portion of the benefit received back to the employer.

Highlights from the 2016 Budget Speech

25 February 2016
On 24 February 2016 we had the welcome sight of Pravin Gordhan back on centre stage to deliver the 2016 Annual Budget Speech. What was keenly anticipated from this speech was an indication of Government’s plans on how to achieve greater revenue collections to fund the budget deficit.

Is your payroll ready for the retirement reform changes?

11 February 2016
Employers, are you ready for the changes that need to be made in your payroll systems for the retirement reform legislation? In terms of this legislation, contributions made to pension and provident funds by employers on behalf of their employees will be taxed as a fringe benefit, currently effective 1 March 2016.

Another Transfer Pricing Dilemma

5 February 2016
As all multinational groups of companies should be aware Transfer Pricing is a significant tax issue when operating cross border in multiple tax jurisdictions. Transfer Pricing legislation exists in most established tax regimes and is becoming more and more prevalent in countries previously considered less tax sophisticated.

Davis Tax Committee - Estate Duty Report

25 September 2015
The Davis Tax Committee (DTC) has released its First Interim Report on Estate Duty addressing the role and relevance of estate duty, as well as its interaction with other taxes.

Interest deductibility - those new provisions to keep in mind

25 September 2015
As we should all be aware the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962 (the Tax Act), in the form of various amendments over the last few years, has been changed significantly in the way the South African Revenue Services has looked at the tax deductibility of interest.

Relief available to non-residents from South African tax on pension and annuities from a South African source

25 September 2015
Tax basis of South Africa The taxation system in South Africa is based on residency. SA tax residents, as defined in the Income tax Act, are generally subject to SA tax on their worldwide income. Non-residents are usually only subject to SA tax on their income from sources within South Africa.

The true cost to an employer of an expatriate in South Africa

25 September 2015
With technology making the world a smaller place, it is understandable that large corporations expand their businesses into multiple jurisdictions as they continue to grow. However, setting up a new operation for an existing business in a foreign jurisdiction is not necessarily an easy task.

Retirement Reforms

25 September 2015
The new retirement reforms were planned to come into effect as from 1 March 2015 (effectively for the 2016 tax year).

VAT and valid tax invoices

25 September 2015
Among the many legislated penalties that SARS apply to the various tax types, is the understatement penalty which is calculated in terms of the understatement penalty percentage table in Section 223 of the Tax Administration Act (TAA).  This penalty applies to all tax types covered by the TAA, where an understatement (as defined in the TAA) has been made by a taxpa

Donations - All is not lost

25 September 2015
In the past, if you made a donation to a qualified section 18A institution, you would have been able to claim a deduction against your income of up to 10% of your taxable income as calculated before allowing any donation deduction.

The new tax free employment incentive - More than meets the eye?

25 September 2015
A hot topic on many lips is the new employment tax incentive that was implemented with effect from 1 January 2014. The aim of the incentive is to encourage employers to hire young and inexperienced individuals looking for work.

Fraudulent tax returns

25 September 2015
“I promise you will receive a refund from SARS if we submit your tax return!” That sounds too good to be true. As with all things in life, it probably is. SARS has issued a media release to taxpayers to exercise caution should any “tax advisor” promise you something as bold as this.

Personal income tax returns

25 September 2015
We were approached by a corporate entity to address a number of its staff members on their personal income tax matters. The aspects addressed in the presentation were as follows: Why must I submit a tax return? Who is required to file a tax return?

Binding General Ruling – Value Added Taxation (VAT)

25 September 2015
On 01 September 2012 South African Revenue Service (SARS) issued Binding General Ruling (VAT): No 11 (BGR). This BGR prescribes the foreign exchange rate that must be used when issuing tax invoices as well as for determining the output tax due where the consideration for the standard rated supply is in a foreign currency.

Dividends withholding tax

25 September 2015
It seems like a lifetime ago when the Minister of Finance announced in 2007 that Secondary Tax on Companies (STC) would be replaced with a new Dividend Withholding Tax (DWT). Background

Taxation Treatment of Tips

25 September 2015
The treatment of tips received by employees from customers for services provided has always been difficult to deal with from an employer’s perspective. An employer has a duty in terms of the Income Tax Act, No 58 of 1962 (‘the Act”) to deduct employees’ tax from remuneration as defined in the Fourth Schedule of the Act.

Integrated Reporting and the integrated Report in South Africa

25 September 2015
On 1 September 2009 the King Code of Governance Principles for South Africa (“King III”) was released. This document, a follow on to King I and King II, arose directly as a result of the intended introduction of a new Companies’ Act no 71 of 2008 in South Africa.

Tax free investments

23 September 2015
The purpose of the new tax free investment products is to encourage individuals to increase their household savings.