Many easy ways to avoid paying government levies

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If you want to avoid loads and loads of tax, forget about jetting off to Bermuda or one of those nasty tax-dodging regimes where everybody is so ridiculously rich they’ll make you feel a tad inadequate. Indeed, forget about jetting off anywhere.

Here’s all that you have to do to have a tax bill as negligible as the likes of Google, Amazon, Starbucks and others who feature on the list of the most powerful and wealthy corporations this world has ever known – stay at home, don’t turn on the electricity and avoid plastic bags. It’s really that easy.

Whatever you do, don’t use an airplane and don’t get in a car – yours or anyone else’s. And if you do have to go shopping, well then walk there and take the hand-crocheted shopping bag that has been in your family for generations.

You may of course be one of those frivolous people who think nothing of buying a new plastic bag every time you go out to buy a loaf of bread. And it seems there are enough of your sort of people to justify the Treasury budgeting for a 39 percent increase in 2013 receipts from the plastic bag levy that was introduced in 2005.

In 2011, the plastic bag levy generated R258 million for government coffers. This plummeted, inexplicably, to just R54m in 2012. Last year, there was a dramatic recovery to R151m and this year the Treasury is budgeting for a 39 percent increase to an estimated R209m.

For the coming fiscal year, the government is budgeting for a more modest 11.5 percent increase to R233m, which may not seem like much but is likely to be more than is paid for goods bought in South Africa from Amazon.

One of the many fascinating aspects of the plastic bag levy is that the level of income it generates appears so utterly random. It bears absolutely no relation to the level of retail sales in any particular year. This suggests it is either a rounding off sum or no one in South Africa is able to consistently commit to re-using their old crochet bags.

But plastic bags are just one of the many ways that the Treasury is able to get you to contribute to the fiscus. There’s also the incandescent light bulb levy; the motor vehicle emissions tax, the air departures tax and the electricity levy. These are all part of what the Treasury rather clumsily categorises as “taxes on use of goods or permission to use goods or to perform activities”. In total they make a very nice contribution to the fiscus.

They are of course in addition to the really hefty items such as the general fuel levy and the tax on smokes and booze.

So there you have it – how to be a no-flying, crochet-bag wielding tax dodger.


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