Tax loopholes for the rich to be closed

Comment on this story
IOL Business Budget Pravin Feb24 2011 REUTERS Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Photo: Reuters

 

More than half of the R9.5 billion in tax relief promised in this year’s Budget will go to people earning less than R22 000 a month and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan promised Parliament that tax loopholes exploited by the rich would continue to be shut.

In his annual Budget speech, Gordhan also lashed out at tax dodgers and warned that “the role of tax practitioners and other intermediaries will come under scrutiny”.

He told Parliament that in the current financial year, which ends on March 31, over 230 taxpayers had been successfully prosecuted, resulting in sentences totalling 370 years and nearly R5 million in fines. “A further 1 500 tax-related cases are awaiting prosecution with the National Prosecuting Authority.”

In addition, the SA Revenue Service had issued more than 700 000 taxpayers with administrative penalties for failing to submit their tax returns on time, while the recent voluntary disclosure programme had attracted 18 000 applications, yielded almost R1bn in additional tax and “provided useful insights into areas of non-compliance that will receive focused attention”.

He pointed out that analysis of compliance among SA’s 34 000 tax advisers had shown they owed more than R260m in outstanding taxes and had more than 18 000 income tax returns in their personal capacity. “If that is their attitude to their own tax compliance, one shudders to think what advice they are giving to their clients!”

The 2012 Budget Review shows that the top-earning 2.5 percent of SA’s 11 million working people contribute 37 percent of all income taxes. Between them, they receive 21 percent of all taxable income. In contrast, 44 percent of wage earners pay no income tax at all.

Personal income tax – payments by individuals and trusts – for the 2012/13 tax year will total R296m and account for 37 percent of national government revenue.

Corporate income tax will bring in R168m and VAT will contribute R210m to the national coffers. The provinces will raise R105m in the year.

The tax threshold – the amount that one has to earn before having to pay income tax – will rise from R59 750 a year for people younger than 65 years old to R63 556. People older than 65 will only start paying personal income tax once their earnings top R99 056, up from the current level of R93 150. The number of people who pay no personal income tax at all stands at 4.9m.

Gordhan told Parliament that tax deductions for medical expenses would be tweaked to ensure that the relative value of the tax benefit received did not increase with higher income levels.

He also said the National Treasury was proposing a system of declaring a portion of interest income tax-free, with “tax-preferred” savings products which would render interest from designated savings accounts tax free. Savings in these products would be limited to R30 000 a year, with a maximum lifetime value of R500 000, in order to ensure that “high net-worth individuals do not benefit disproportionately”.

But capital gains tax (CGT) is set to rise dramatically after more than a decade of unchanged and “relatively modest rates”, Gordhan warned. The effective maximum CGT rate will rise to 13.3 percent from 10 percent. To limit the effect of this on middle-income households, the rates at which CGT kicks in will rise, with the main changes being that the primary residence exclusion will go from R1.5m to R2m and that the exclusion for the disposal of a small business will rise from R900 000 to R1.8m when a person is older than 55.

The Budget Review also contained details of how the tax system will be used to encourage saving for retirement and offered welcome relief to small businesses, which will enjoy a higher tax-free income threshold, a lower turnover tax and a reduction in the number of returns and payments from 18 to two.

He also said that the corporate sector would not avoid scrutiny and that steps would be taken, among other things, to avoid excessive debt financing as interest payments are tax deductible.



sign up
 
 

Comment Guidelines



  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

     

Anonymous, wrote

IOL Comments
09:02pm on 22 February 2012
IOL Comments

The skew and imbalance cannot continue. 2,5% of taxpayers contributing 37% of all taxes. Recipe for disaster.

Report this

IOL Comments

Sinies, wrote

IOL Comments
08:55pm on 22 February 2012
IOL Comments

In future, always deduct 37% of the earnings of the 'top' earners and keep 100% of the earnings of the bottom (non tax paying) 44%, if any sort of income comparison is made. Actually the 37% tax from the 'top' earners is to a large extent (mis)spent on the very 'bottom' 44% and jobless, meaning they benefit disproportionally from the taxes paid by the 'rich'. This should be rectified, introducing a flat tax rate for all earners, keeping nett income to the earner the same, but adjusting gross earnings of earners such that SARS collect the same nett taxes through a flat rate. It is much easier to overlookapprove the governments waste of taxpayer monies if the tax is collected from somebody else.(the rich).

Report this

IOL Comments

JP, wrote

IOL Comments
04:36pm on 22 February 2012
IOL Comments

God giveth, Pravin Gordon taketh away. It has been and always will be the case. Remember that next time you vote in a general election.

Report this

IOL Comments

Anonymous, wrote

IOL Comments
03:34pm on 22 February 2012
IOL Comments

Tax Practitoners are under quite a strain to keep up with all the deadlines laid down by SARS and although a few may neglect to be tax compliant themselves, the majority of these professional work hard to keep both their own and their clients tax compliant. So the "klap" seems to be uncalled for. Most of us break our necks with a workload that is simply horrific - to get taxes collected - for you, sir. So, be nice.

Report this

IOL Comments

ODC, wrote

IOL Comments
02:36pm on 22 February 2012
IOL Comments

ALL the ANC care about is TAX, they closed close corporations to get more TAX, amended Trust Laws to get more TAX. With more TAX they get more money to spend on themselves, with more money they become more corrupt, with more corruption they become more incompetent...when will it ever end?

Report this

IOL Comments

Showing items 1 - 5 of 5