Taxpayers ‘not getting value for money’

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South Africans are paying the state more than 100 different taxes and these are increasing all the time as the government scrambles to find more money.

According to economists, there are 85 different taxes at a national level, plus several provincial and municipal fees.

Chief economist at the Efficient Group, Dawie Roodt, said that if you analyse all the different tax schemes, you will realise that the current taxation system is “cumbersome and complicated”.

“If you look at the amount of different taxes, there are fewer than a few decades ago because there are far fewer import duties, but it is the only area where there are fewer taxes than in the past. In recent years we have seen many new taxes introduced in other areas,” Roodt said.

Roodt worked out that the 85 different national taxes include a range of taxes under air passenger travel, excise duties and levies, sin taxes, driving licences and home affairs levies.

Economist Mike Schussler said the state was scratching around for different revenue streams, and the obvious way to do this and not make it too obvious was to introduce taxes that weren’t there before and that fall outside of personal income tax.

“There are all sorts of new avenues of revenue,” Schussler said.

“Many are not obvious and they are small, like the R50 you pay when you join the library, but they all add up.”

Schussler names the recent municipal add-on of plastic bin rental that is a recent addition to municipal taxes, the Gauteng toll road system, and paying for parking in some Joburg and Pretoria streets.

“Now if you want to advertise on street poles you have to pay a fee. That was never there before,” said Schussler.

And historical taxes are also increasing. Schussler said airport taxes have increased 72 percent in one year and electricity tariffs have gone from 2c per kWh to 3.5c/kWh.

According to Schussler, air departure taxes were brought in in 2002, the plastic bag levy in 2004, electricity levy in 2009, incandescent light bulbs in 2010, CO2 motor emissions tax proposed in 2010, diamond export tax in 2004.

Provincial taxes that are also fairly recent include gambling taxes and the tourism tax, where every bed in a hotel and B&B is taxed.

Municipal taxes include property rates, electricity, water, wastewater management and waste management.

“There is hardly anything municipalities do for free, and they aren’t doing as much for their citizens as they could,” said Schussler.

“For instance, pensioners should ride for free on buses. It definitely seems that the tax burden has shifted down on people.”

He said Rand Water had a profit of 55 percent last year.

They sell water to the municipalities who can also make a 70 percent profit from the water. That profit is being paid by the consumer.

A large portion of taxation rested on transport costs.

The Treasury responded by saying it was important to differentiate between user, or service charges, and taxation.

Spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane said that of the revenue collected by Sars as personal income tax, corporate income tax and value added tax contributed 80 percent of total tax revenue.

He said the total revenue that municipalities are forecast to generate from property rates in 2012/13 is R38.33bn or 1.2 percent of GDP.

Other payments from municipalities will be around R50bn or 1.6 percent of GDP. - The Star

angelique.serrao@inl.co.za

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