THE VAT CONSEQUENCES OF CHANGE IN INTENDED USE OF GOODS

A1_bIt happens ever so often that a business would purchase goods, and subsequently apply those goods in a different manner than it had initially intended to at the time that those goods were acquired. For example, a sole proprietor dealing in motor vehicles may decide to take one of those vehicles and apply it towards personal use. So too a property developer may decide to rather use one of its properties, up for sale, as new office premises for itself.

It is often said in tax circles that Newton’s law (that every action has a reaction) should be extended: every action also has a tax consequence. This is certainly also true where asset continue to be held by taxpayers, albeit with a different intention of how the asset is to be applied.

Where an asset is applied differently from what it has been applied towards in the past, certain tax consequences arises, both on a VAT and income tax account. This article deals specifically with the VAT consequences of such a change in use.

From a VAT perspective, where goods are no longer applied for purposes of the furtherance of a VAT enterprise, those goods are deemed to have been supplied by that VAT enterprise. As a result, output tax is required to be accounted for by the taxpayer on the open market value[1] of those goods deemed to have been supplied.[2] There is some logic to this from a theoretical perspective: the VAT vendor would have claimed input tax when it acquired the goods in question originally. Section 18 is therefore the statutory mechanism whereby the input tax claimed (on the basis that the goods would have been applied towards generating taxable supplies) is effectively reversed.

Where the goods are only partly used for purposes other than in the furtherance of the VAT enterprise, the input tax adjustment will also only be partly required to be accounted for.

An interesting exception to the above is where property developers let their properties temporarily for a period of less than 3 years. In practice, it quite often happens that property developers may decide to let property on a temporary basis due to the slow turnover of stock associated with the industry. Even though technically trading stock of the VAT registered developer would then be used for purposes not forming part of its property selling enterprise, the VAT Act[3] allows for a temporary reprieve from having to account for output tax, and does so based on practical considerations. This pragmatic approach presents an alternative to what would otherwise have only amounted to a cash flow issue: property developers may be required to account for output VAT once the property stock-in-trade is used to supply residential rental income, only to be reutilised as trading stock once sold in a year or two later (and when input tax may then be claimed again). Although therefore of little consequence to SARS (which remains neutral after the rental period in the example), many property developers are heavily dependent on cash flows and would be severely prejudiced, and many would be forced to close shop, had it not been for this practical concession granted in this limited instance.

[1] Section 10(7) of the VAT Act, 89 of 1991

[2] Section 18(1) of the VAT Act

[3] Section 18B of the VAT Act

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

TEN TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS DURING TOUGH FINANCIAL TIMES

A2_bWhen the economy is slow, small business owners struggle to survive, many for the first time. Financial problems consume valuable time and business resources, yet must be dealt with proactively. Also make use of your financial advisor or your banker; they have the expertise and knowledge regarding your business and its financial well-being.
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  1. In tough times cash is king. Have a close look at every purchase you need to make, and decide if it is worth the money. Will the product generate enough cash to pay for itself? If not, don’t buy it.
  1. Let your budget show the way. Without a budget, you will find it difficult to cope with hard financial times. Adapt it regularly and do the same with your personal expenses. If you don’t keep track of expenses, they will become a bottomless pit into which all your cash will disappear.
  1. Look at your business’s financial position and performance objectively. Do you get maximum returns from your investments? Could you sell those that are not making you money? When times are tough, survival is the only goal.
  1. Examine how your debt is structured. If you have an imbalance between short-term and long-term debt you should restructure your long-term debt so that you can pay back the short-term debt over a longer period. Be careful not to take a loan against long-term assets, except if you are in critical need of money.
  1. Prepare for your meeting with your banker. Make sure you have all cash flow and balance sheets and inventories at hand for your banker. This will make your review time more productive. Write down any ideas regarding your financial position and discuss them with your banker.
  1. Ask your banker about guaranteed loan programs. Your banker could be able to restructure your business debt over a longer period if you are able to secure a credit guarantee on your loan to the bank. If your business is situated in a qualifying rural area, you may qualify for a guaranteed loan. Ask your banker about any additional resources which may be of use to your business.
  1. Review your insurance coverage. Increase your deductibles and your premium will decrease. Items that are low-risk or obsolete should be removed from your inventory list.
  1. Examine your life insurance policies. Some whole life policies have provisions that enable you to borrow against the cash surrender value at very low rates, or you could deduct the cost of the premiums from the cash surrender value. Determine whether your life insurance is worth the money or whether you couldn’t get by at a lower cost. Make sure all key personnel in your company have life insurance so that business can continue in any of the key players’ absence.
  1. Deal with financial problems immediately. As soon as a financial problem arises, deal with it immediately. Keep your banker informed of any problems and make him part of your inner circle of confidants. Use your team as a soundboard to discuss financial difficulties and brainstorm solutions.
  1. Get some perspective. Sometimes you need to get some distance from your work to solve the problems. Take a weekend off or go and watch a movie – whatever you do, leave your worries behind for a short while and focus on something else – it will make you and your business a lot stronger.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

EXTENTION OF LEARNERSHIP ALLOWANCES AND EMPLOYMENT TAX INCENTIVE

B4With the focus on skills development and job creation, the existing allowance for learnership agreements has been extended to all agreements entered into before 1 April 2022. Similarly the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) has been extended to 28 February 2019.

Section 12H of the Income Tax Act[1] allows an employer to claim a “learnership allowance” in respect of registered learnership agreements entered into or completed during a year of assessment. For purposes of section 12H the learnership agreement must be registered in accordance with the Skills Development Act.[2] A qualifying employer is entitled to two types of allowances, namely an annual allowance (deductible in any year of assessment during which a learner is a party to a registered learnership agreement) and a completion allowance (deductible in the year in which the learner successfully completes the learnership).

In order to qualify for the section 12H allowance the learnership agreement must furthermore have been entered into before a certain date. This period has been extended from 1 October 2016 previously to 1 April 2022.

Also, with effect from 1 October 2015, the amount of the allowance depends on the level of qualification held by the learner. In this regard, employers qualify for both the annual as well as the completion allowance of R40,000 in respect of learners who hold a qualification equal to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 1 to 6. In respect of learners who hold a qualification equal to NQF level 7 to 10, the employer qualifies for an annual and completion allowance of R20,000 each.

In respect of a person with a disability, the employer qualifies for an additional allowance of R20,000 where the learner has a qualification equal to NQF level 1 to 6, and an additional R30,000 where the learner has a qualification equal to NQF level 7 – 10, i.e. a total allowance of R60,000 and R50,000 respectively.

The ETI[3] was introduced by Government on 1 January 2014 to address the socio and economic problem of youth development. Eligible employers may reduce the monthly employees’ tax withheld and payable to SARS in terms of the Fourth Schedule to the Income Tax Act with the amount of the ETI. It was initially indicated that this allowance will cease on 1 January 2017. However, the incentive has now been extended to 28 February 2019.

In addition to the ETI, an employer may also be eligible for a deduction of a learnership allowance during a year of assessment if the requirements of section 12H of the Income Tax Act are met as set out above.

[1] 58 of 1962

[2] 97 of 1998

[3] Employment Tax Incentive Act No. 26 of 2013

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

GONE ARE THE DAYS OF TAX-FREE SALARIES ABROAD

B3Many South African taxpayers earning a salary abroad have for many years been able to benefit from so-called “double non-taxation”. This would be the case where salaries are earned in countries where the employer country would not tax salaries earned in that country, and where a domestic South African income tax exemption would also be available to such South African employees. The UAE for example is renowned therefore that it levies very little, if any, taxes on non-resident employees employed in that jurisdiction. This regime interacts quite well with the South African exemption from income tax provided to South African employees working abroad and in terms of which South Africa would in many cases also not levy income tax on salaries so earned abroad. In other words, a salary earned abroad may potentially not be taxed in either the country of source or residence (i.e. South Africa).

In terms of section 10(1)(o)(ii) of the Income Tax Act[1] salaries earned abroad would be exempt from South African income tax if the salary is earned for services rendered outside of South Africa, and the employee would be absent from South Africa for at least 183 days in a tax year, of which at least 60 are consecutive.

In the annual national budget speech earlier this year, Government warned of its intention to withdraw relief for South African individuals working abroad and effectively achieving double “non-taxation” on salaries so earned. This threat has now been borne out by the proposed withdrawal of the exemption in section 10(1)(o)(ii) of the Income Tax Act, proposed in terms of the draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill published on 19 July 2017. As is explained by the draft Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill,

“It has come to Government’s attention that the current exemption creates opportunities for double non-taxation in cases where the foreign host country does not impose income tax on the employment income or taxes on employment income are imposed at a significantly reduced rate.”

The draft Bill proposes that section 10(1)(o)(ii) be deleted effectively for tax years commencing on or after 1 March 2019. This would effectively mean that South African residents will be taxable in South Africa on salaries earned abroad to the extent that the source country does not levy tax on the income so earned. To the extent however that income is taxed abroad too, South Africa should grant a credit against taxes payable here in terms of either an applicable double tax agreement or the provisions of section 6quat of the Income Tax Act.

[1] 58 of 1962

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

FURTHER REFINEMENTS TO THE ATTACK ON INTEREST FREE LOANS TO TRUSTS

B2We previously reported on the introduction of section 7C of the Income Tax Act, 58 of 1962. In terms of this targeted anti-avoidance provision, National Treasury sought to attack interest free loans granted to trusts by connected persons of that trust.

Typically, these loans would have arisen by virtue of an individual that would sell his or her asset to a trust of which he/she is a beneficiary for estate duty purposes on interest free loan account. By doing so, the asset’s value will grow in the trust, while the interest free loan will remain a non-appreciable, static asset in the hands of the beneficiary, thereby excluding future capital growth on the asset from estate duty when that individual should one day pass away.

Section 7C deems an interest component to arise on interest free or low interest loan accounts to the extent that interest is not charged at the prescribed rate. The amount of the deemed interest is then treated as an annual donation by the trust, thereby attracting donations tax on the value of the deemed donation made to the trust. Were the trust creditors to actually charge interest on the loans to the trusts on the other hand, this will lead to taxable income accruing in their hands, and which will be subject to income tax being charged thereon at prevailing income tax rates.

The new proposals contained in the draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, published on 19 July 2017, contain two significant reforms which further focus the extent of the anti-avoidance provisions of section 7C and counter two specific planning solutions being conceived in practice to counter the application of section 7C in its current form.

The first such proposal to take note of is that loans to trusts are no longer the sole target, but also interest free loans extended to companies (owned by trusts) by the beneficiaries of that trust. This is in an attempt to counter structuring solutions whereby loans owing by a trust were shifted by way of complex restructurings to companies owned by trusts.

The second proposal is aimed at loans due by trusts being transferred from the creditor individual to another, thereby effectively “breaking the link” between the person that extended the loan to the trust and the person now entitled to the amounts due by the trust. In other words, section 7C would only previously apply to the person who extended the loan to the trust. Since the person now holding the loan claim did not originally grant the loan to the trust, the provisions of section 7C, in its original form, would not have applied. The second new revision to section 7C counters this approach making it clear that a connected person acquiring a loan claim is also caught by the provisions of section 7C (and thus required to charge interest) irrespective thereof that that person did not itself extend any loan finance itself to the trust.

The above are still mere proposals, but are proposed to become effective 19 July 2017 if enacted (which appears likely). Taxpayers with loan accounts to trusts are therefore well-advised to seek guidance on how to treat such loan accounts going forward.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

 

5 TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR SMALL BUSINESS PAYROLL

B11. Know your big deadlines

Dealing with accounting deadlines and employee returns is much less stressful when you know what you need to action well in advance. Make sure you have a good system in place that alerts you to important dates and if you need to do anything. Working ahead gives you time to sort out any concerns or problems.

  1. Invest in a payroll software

Payroll systems such as Sage Instant Payroll or Sage One Payroll will automate the whole process for you, taking care of things like NI and tax calculations, generating payslips for employees, keeping up with legislation and providing information for end of year tax returns.

  1. Keep up with payroll legislation

Changes in regulation may affect how you need to run your payroll, so it pays to keep abreast of major new laws. Benefits and tax change frequently and while you don’t necessarily need to know all the details, it’s worth staying informed and getting advice when you’re not sure.

  1. Have a financial back-up plan

Keeping on top of payments is crucial in any growing business. Setting up a good credit control system, sending out invoices promptly and always chasing late payments firmly as soon as they become due will help avoid cash flow disruption.

  1. If all else fails… outsource

If managing payroll yourself is proving a real headache, consider outsourcing to a payroll company. They’re experts at what they do, and can save you the hassle of managing everything yourself and staying on top of regulations and paperwork.

Reference:

  • “8 Tips For Managing Payroll | Small Business Advice | Sage Singapore”. Sage.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 June 2017.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

WHEN IT COMES TO STRATEGY, THINK BIG

B2To create a strategic roadmap for your business you don’t need heaps of wonderful resources; you only need to give up your preconceived ideas about strategy. Sometimes the thing that holds a small business back the most is small thinking. If you believe that the size of your business is a disadvantage when it comes to strategic planning, simply because the big companies have all the financial resources and manpower to influence the market, then why start a business at all? Fortunately, money or size of personnel is not what counts when you create a strategic plan – common sense is.

Keep your enthusiasm in check

You don’t need to strategise constantly; rather make sure that you understand the market conditions and that you have attainable goals – don’t waste time on too much planning. You could also try using your company’s small size to out-manoeuvre larger, slower companies by addressing challenges and options and seizing opportunities over short but regular spaces of time.

Challenge assumptions

Believing in the status quo is not part of a successful entrepreneur’s strategy. The business climate is constantly changing with the help of the Internet, social media and other mobile devices. Many companies have landed on the business rubbish dump because they could not adapt to changing times. Question everything. Attempt playing devil’s advocate with your new ideas, then get your team together and devise plans to make the idea viable. Ignore preconceived notions about what can or cannot work – while some business principles are a given, very few business ideas are completely useless.

Avoid myopia

You can build a sales strategy based on the outcome you desire. Don’t miss out on good opportunities because you are too caught up in day-to-day activities to think outside the box and re-examine your progress. Change your perspective and get your team to think in more creative, profitable ways.

Jack (or Jane) be nimble, eager and bold

The market and the needs of customers keep changing, and it’s beyond your control. What you can control, however, is how you adjust to these changes and what new plans you create. Be bold in your new approach and keep an open mind as to the unconventional ways in which to grow.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

THE 2017 TAX SEASON IS OPEN

B1The Commissioner for SARS recently published the annual notice to officially ‘open’ the 2017 tax season. Individuals are now able to file their annual income tax returns for the 2017 year of assessment (which ended on 28 February 2017) from 1 July, and we request that our clients contact us so that we can arrange for the necessary. The following time frames will apply:
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  • For a company, within 1 year of its year-end (for example, a company with a financial year-end of 31 March 2017 is required to submit its 2017 tax return by 31 March 2018);
  • For all other taxpayers (including natural persons and trusts), returns are to be submitted at the latest by:
    • 22 September 2017 for persons still making use of manual hardcopy returns;
    • 24 November 2017 for persons (excluding taxpayers registered for provisional tax) making use of SARS’ eFiling system; and
    • 31 January 2018 for all provisional taxpayers making use of SARS’ eFiling system.

As was the case in previous years, companies may only file returns using eFiling – manual returns are not allowed in terms of the above SARS notice.

Not all individuals are required to submit income tax returns. Various criteria are listed which, only if any of these are met, means that a person is obliged to submit a return to SARS.  For example, all companies, whether incorporated in South Africa or not, are obliged to submit returns if South Africa is the place from which the company is effectively managed.  Non-tax resident companies, but which were incorporated in South Africa, must also render returns, as well as non-tax resident companies incorporated outside of the Republic and earning income from a South African source.

Taxpayers (excluding companies) are required to submit returns if they carried on any trade in South Africa during the 2016 tax year. This does not include the mere earning of a salary. A variety of other factors are listed in terms of which non-company taxpayers are required to submit returns. The main exemption from having to submit a return for tax resident natural persons though is if the person earned only a salary from a single employer during the year which did not exceed R350,000, and income from interest for that person was also less than R23,800 (or R34,500 if the person is older than 65).

Quite a number of taxpayers are therefore potentially exempt from the requirement to submit an income tax return, even if registered for income tax purposes. However, even though it may in terms of the notice not be required to submit a tax return, it may still be beneficial to do so. Natural person taxpayers are often under the unfortunate impression that the completion of a return necessarily gives rise to the incidence of tax.  This is of course not so and many may have suffered tax consequences during the year already by having amounts deducted from salaries in the form of pay-as-you-earn contributions deducted from their salaries. This of course amounts to a mere cash flow mechanism introduced to ensure a steady supply of cash to the fiscus and which contributions are set-off from the annual tax liability when the annual tax return submitted is assessed. However, the opportunity to negate this is presented through the completion of a tax return and claiming deductible expenses in the form of e.g. medical aid or pension fund contributions. The principle in this regard is that all income is taxable irrespective of whether a return is completed or not. However deductions can only be claimed by completing a tax return and natural persons specifically should jump at the opportunity to do so.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

TAX RESIDENCE FOR INDIVIDUALS

B3According to the South African Revenue Service (SARS), South Africa has a residence-based tax system, which means residents are, subject to certain exclusions, taxed on their worldwide income, irrespective of where their income was earned. By contrast, non-residents are taxed on their income from a South African source.

In an increasingly global society where individuals travel more freely across borders and are able to hold assets in various countries, it becomes important for individuals with ties to South Africa to have certainty whether they are a South African tax resident or not. If they are, their entire income earned from wherever in the world may potentially be taxed in South Africa.

Tax residence is not linked to migration status. In other words, irrespective of which country’s passport one carries, tax residence may still be established in South Africa by virtue of the domestic tests applied by the Income Tax Act.[1] In terms of that Act, an individual will be tax resident in South Africa if either that person meets the criteria of the “physical presence” test, or if that person is “ordinarily resident” in South Africa.

The physical presence test involves a day counting exercise whereby a person will be considered to be a South African tax resident if he/she has been present in the Republic for at least 91 days every year for 6 tax years, and that the days spent in the country in total over this period amounts to at least 915 days in total. If this test is met, the individual will be tax resident from the first day of the last year forming part of the 6-year period referred to.

The question whether a person is “ordinarily resident” in South Africa is a more involved one. The term as used in the Income Tax Act is undefined, but our courts have considered the term to refer to “… the country to which [an individual] would naturally and as a matter of course return from his [or her] wanderings”.[2] The test involves a facts-based and substantive inquiry that in essence involves a person being asked: Where do you consider home to be.

Tax residence is not only relevant for purposes of where a tax liability may arise, but also to understand what tax compliance-related obligations may arise for an individual. It is therefore important for individuals not to confuse migration and tax residence status; the two rather have very little to do with one another.

References:

  • [1] See the definition of “resident” in section 1 of the Income Tax Act, 58 of 1962
  • [2] Cohen v CIR 1946 AD 174

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

GOODS AND SERVICES ACQUIRED BY VAT VENDORS ON CREDIT

B2It is an established principle that registered VAT vendors may claim a deduction for input tax on goods or services acquired for use in the course of making taxable supplies as part of carrying on an enterprise.[1] For example, a VAT vendor purchases trading stock from another vendor for the purpose of sale to its clients subsequently. Once those goods are purchased by the VAT vendor, even if on credit, input tax may generally be claimed on the goods purchased.

Where the VAT vendor above buys the goods on credit, the input tax claimed may effectively be reversed if payment to the creditor is not forthcoming timeously. In terms of section 22(3) of the VAT Act, where the consideration for the purchase of goods have not been paid by the VAT vendor to its supplier within 12 months of it buying the goods, a portion of the input tax claimed must be effectively reversed and paid over to SARS as output VAT. In other words, where a VAT vendor has claimed input tax, but has not yet settled the amount due to the person providing it with those goods or services in respect of which the input tax is claimed, the input tax claim will be effectively cancelled.

Although it may appear to be a trivial matter to most, the question does become relevant where goods or services are supplied between related persons or entities, such as group companies for instance. When “payment” is made for purposes of the VAT Act has recently been considered in the case of XYZ Company (Pty) Ltd v CSARS.[2] In that case a VAT supply was made between a holding company and its subsidiary, with the amount owing subsequently being moved from the debtors’ book to the loan account which the subsidiary company had in place with the holding company. SARS contended that the purchase price remaining outstanding on loan account has not yet been paid by the subsidiary, and therefore the input tax claimed by the subsidiary had to be accounted for as output tax after 12 months of the supply taking place.

The Tax Court however differed and attributed a wide meaning to the word “paid”. It held that the action of transferring the debt due from the debtors’ book to the loan account of the parties amounted to the payment of the debt arising from the supply. The holding company acquired a new right with new terms, being those linked to the newly created loan account and which differed from the trade debt, even though the counter-party was unchanged. Payment, in a wide sense, is not limited to cash flow only, but also include an exchange and creation of new rights and obligations.

While the judgment deals specifically with the context of section 22(3), a consideration whether amounts have been “paid” or not are not limited to this provision only and the effect thereof may extend wider to other provisions of the VAT Act too, the provisions of section 16(3) – which deal with input tax claimed on second hand goods acquired – being a pertinent example.

References:

  • [1] Section 17(1) of the VAT Act, 89 of 1991
  • [2] Case No.: VAT 1247, 5 September 2016 (Cape Town)

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)