FINAL AND DILUTED LEGISLATION IN RELATION TO LOW INTEREST LOANS AND TRUST

A1bThe renewed focus by National Treasury on the taxation of trusts was widely anticipated and it came as little surprise earlier this year that the first version of the Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, 2016, introduced what will become the new section 7C of the Income Tax Act, 58 of 1962.

Much has since been written about the new provision, and many commentators have debated its merits, essentially attributing onerous tax consequences to low interest loans provided to trusts. The final version of the new provision, due to become effective 1 March 2017, has now been published by Treasury, and which will be incorporated into the Income Tax Act as soon as passing through the relevant legislative processes.

The final version contains quite a few significant changes to the initial proposal, although the aim of section 7C is still focused on attacking interest free loans to trusts.

To recap: loans extended by persons to connected party trusts at less than prime – 2.5% are potentially deemed to have donated an amount to that trust equal to the difference between interest that was actually charged and the amount of interest that would have been charged at a rate of prime – 2.5%. It is unlikely that such deemed donations will have any direct income tax consequences for the trust, although indirectly donations to trusts may cause certain receipts by a trust to be taxed in the hands of any donors in terms of the so-called “tax back” provisions contained in section 7 of the Income Tax Act.[1] The obvious consequence of section 7C though is the potential incidence of donations tax.

In this regard, the first notable exception to the final version of section 7C is that the annual R100,000 exemption from donations tax may now be utilised against the deemed donation – said exemption was previous expressly excluded from being utilised against the deemed donation triggered by section 7C. Although this does not address the indirect income tax consequence highlighted above in relation to the application of the “tax back” provisions in the Act, it does significantly negate any potential donations tax consequences, while also removing the direct income tax consequence of the previous proposal in terms of which the creditor will have been deemed to have received an interest accrual in its own hands (and which would have been subject to income tax).

A further notable change to the final version of section 7C is that a long list of potential exemptions are now provided for where section 7C will not apply (although these are quite focussed and potentially of limited application only). It is finally also noted that the final proposed legislation makes it clear that the provision applies to loans already existing as at 1 March 2017, where doubt existed in terms of the previous proposal whether the provision would only have applied to “new” loans entered into on or after section 7C comes into effect.

The final version of section 7C presents a much diluted and less threatening version of the initial proposed legislation presented by Treasury earlier this year, and taxpayers will be relieved to learn of the significant concessions since been made. That being said, the provision still has the capacity to significantly increase the ultimate tax bill of a number of trust related structures, and our clients are once again encouraged to have their prevailing accounts reviewed to ensure that their affairs are structured appropriately.

[1] To the extent that a person donates an amount to the trust, income received by the trust as a consequence of that donation is deemed to accrue to the donor, and not the trust.

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)

INTEREST FREE LOANS WITH COMPANIES

A4bThe latest annual nation budget presented in Parliament proposed the dividends tax rate to be increased with almost immediate effect from 15% to 20%. The increased rate brings into renewed focus what anti-avoidance measures exist in the Income Tax Act[1] that seeks to ensure that the dividends tax is not avoided.

Most commonly, the dividends tax is levied on dividends paid by a company to individuals or trusts that are shareholders of that company. To the extent that the shareholder is a South African tax resident company, no dividends tax is levied on payments to such shareholders.[2] In other words, non-corporate shareholders (such as trusts or individuals) may want to structure their affairs in such a manner so as to avoid the dividends tax being levied, yet still have access to the cash and profit reserves contained in the company for their own use.

Getting access to these funds by way of a dividend declaration will give rise to such dividends being taxed (now) at 20%. An alternative scenario would be for the shareholder to rather borrow the cash from the company on interest free loan account. In this manner factually no dividend would be declared (and which would suffer dividends tax), no interest accrues to the company on the loan account created (and which would have been taxable in the company) and most importantly, the shareholder is able to access the cash of the company commercially. Moreover, since the shareholder is in a controlling position in relation to the company, it can ensure that the company will in future never call upon the loan to be repaid.

Treasury has for long been aware of the use of interest free loans to shareholders (or “connected persons”)[3] as a means first to avoid the erstwhile STC, and now the dividends tax. There exists anti-avoidance legislation; in place exactly to ensure that shareholders do not extract a company’s resources in the guise of something else (such as an interest free loan account) without incurring some tax cost as a result.

Section 64E(4) of the Income Tax Act provides that any loan provided by a company to a non-company tax resident that is:

  1. a connected person in relation to that company; or
  2. a connected person of the above person

“… will be deemed to have paid a dividend if that debt arises by virtue of any share held in that company by a person contemplated in subparagraph (i).” (own emphasis)

The amount of such a deemed dividend (that will be subject to dividends tax) is considered to be effectively equal to the amount of interest that would have been charged at prime less 2.5%, less so much of interest that has been actually charged on the loan account.

It is important to also appreciate that the interest free loan capital is not subject to tax, but which would also have amounted to a once-off tax only. By taxing the interest component not charged, the very real possibility exists for the deemed dividend to arise annually, and for as long as the loan remains in place on an interest free basis.

[1] 58 of 1962

[2] Section 64F(1)(a)

[3] Defined in section 1 of the Income Tax 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)

INTEREST FREE LOANS TO DIRECTORS

A3bIt is very often the case that a company extends an interest free or low interest loan to a director. This manifests either as a true incentive or benefit to that director (mostly the case in larger corporate environments) or in a small business environment in lieu of salaries paid. The latter is especially the case for example where a spouse or family trust would hold the shares in the company running the family business, but which business is conducted through the efforts of the individual to whom a loan is granted from time to time.

In terms of the Seventh Schedule to the Income Tax Act[1] a director of a company is also considered an “employee”.[2] This is significant, since directors can therefore also be bound by the fringe benefit tax regime applicable to employees generally.

Paragraph (i) of the definition of “gross income” in the Income Tax Act[3] specifically includes as an amount subject to income tax “the cash equivalent, as determined under the provisions of the Seventh Schedule, of the value during the year of assessment of any benefit… granted in respect of employment or to the holder of any office…”

Clearly, benefits received by a director of a company would therefore rank for taxation in terms of this provision. The question remains therefore whether loans provided to such directors by the companies where they serve in this capacity would amount to such a taxable benefit, and further how such benefit should be quantified.

Paragraph 2(f) of the Seventh Schedule is unequivocal in its approach that a taxable fringe benefit exists where “… a debt … has been incurred by the employee [read director], whether in favour of the employer or in favour of any other person by arrangement with the employer or any associated institution in relation to the employer, and either-

(i) no interest is payable by the employee in respect of such debt; or

(ii) interest is payable by the employee in respect thereof at a rate of lower than the official rate of interest…”

Paragraph 11 in turn seeks to quantify the amount of the taxable fringe benefit to be included in the gross income of the director. Essentially, the taxable fringe benefit would be equal to so much of interest that would have been payable on the loan at the prime interest rate less 2.5%, less any interest actually paid on the loan. The benefit therefore does not only arise on interest-free loans, but also on loans carrying interest at less than the prescribed interest rate.

It is necessary to note that a fringe benefit otherwise arising will not be a taxable benefit if the loan amount is less than R3,000, or if it is provided to the director to further his/her studies.

[1] 58 of 1962

[2] Paragraph 1 of the Seventh Schedule, paragraph (g) of the definition of “employee”

[3] See section 1

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)

INTEREST FREE LOANS AND TRUSTS

A2bThe recent introduction of section 7C to the Income Tax Act[1] brought the taxation of trusts, and the funding thereof specifically, under the spotlight again. Briefly, section 7C seeks to levy donations tax on loans owing by trusts to connected parties (typically beneficiaries or the companies they control). To the extent that interest is not charged, a donation is deemed to be made by the creditor annually amounting to the difference between the interest actually charged (if at all), and interest that would have been charged had a rate of prime – 2.5% applied.

What many lose focus of is that interest free (or low interest) loans have income tax consequences too, over and above the potential donations tax consequence arising by virtue of section 7C. Section 7 of the Income Tax Act is specifically relevant. This section aims to ensure that taxpayers are not able to donate assets away and which would rid themselves of a taxable income stream.

In broad terms, section 7 deems any income that accrues to a trust or beneficiary to be the income of the donor if the income accrues from an asset previously the subject of a “donation, settlement or other disposition”. In other words, where a person donates a property to a trust, the rental income generated will not be taxed in the hands of the beneficiary or the trust, but in the hands of the donor. Section 7 therefore acts as an anti-avoidance provision to ensure that taxpayers do not “shift” tax onto persons subject to less tax through donating income producing assets out of their own estates.

It is interesting to now consider what an “other disposition” would amount to. Various cases have confirmed that an interest free loan would be treated as such and that, to the extent that interest is not charged, this would amount to a continuing donation.[2] The implication thereof is this: assume the funder of a discretionary trust sells a property to that trust on interest free loan account. Any rental earned would ordinarily have been taxed in the hands of the trust or the beneficiary, depending on whether distributions will have been made. However, since section 7 will apply to the extent that no interest was charged on the loan account, a portion of the rental income will now be taxable in the hands of the trust funder.

The take-away is that donations to trusts have income tax implications for the donor too, over and above a donations tax consequence. This will also be the case where interest free loans are involved.

[1] 58 of 1962

[2] Honiball and Olivier, The Taxation of Trusts (2009) at p. 84 and following

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 BUDGET 2017

A1bFollowing the annual national budget speech delivered by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on 22 February, we highlight some of the most significant matters arising below:

  1. A new tax bracket will be introduced targeting the wealthy as well as trusts. It is proposed that trusts will from now on be taxed at 45% on all taxable income, while individuals earning more than R1.5million per tax year will pay 45% income tax on such income (estimated to be around 103,000 individuals);
  2. The dividends withholding tax rate is proposed to be increased from 15% to 20%. This is linked to the above increase in individual income tax rates to prevent wealthy individuals from exploiting the arbitrage opportunity that may exist in receiving fees in a company and having these paid out as a dividend;
  3. The much debated VAT rate has been left unchanged, which was widely expected given the political sensitivity coupled with the effect that this may have on the poor;
  4. Increase in withholding taxes on non-residents disposing of immovable property situated in SA;
  5. The “duty free” threshold for transfer duty (tax levied on purchasers of immovable property) has been increased from R750,000 to R900,000;
  6. The corporate income tax, donations tax and estate duty rates have been left unchanged;
  7. The CGT inclusion rate (40% for individuals, 80% for companies or trusts) was left unchanged too;
  8. The above and other most significant changes can be summed up as follows:
  WAS NOW
Top marginal PIT rate 41% 45%
Dividends tax 15% 20%
Tax rate for trusts 41% 45%
Estate duty abatement R3.5 m R3.5 m
CGT annual exclusion R40,000 R40,000
Primary rebate for individuals R13,500 R13,635

The Minister also alluded to the following matters which could expect legislative intervention or refinement during the course of the year:

  1. Renewed focus on transfer pricing and cross-border tax avoidance schemes;
  2. Further refinements to anti-avoidance legislation introduced in 2016 as applies to trusts;
  3. Section 42 “asset-for-share” relief to be extended to also provide for the assumption of contingent liabilities (as opposed to only applying to the issuing of shares or the assumption of existing debt);
  4. Share issue and buy-back transactions (commonly used as part of corporate restructurings whereby CGT is avoided) are to be addressed as part of an anti-avoidance effort;
  5. The anti-avoidance provisions linked to “third-party back shares” (section 8EA) are to be relaxed;
  6. Further refinement and relaxation of the VCC regime as relates to rules restricting such investments;
  7. Measures will be introduced whereby foreign companies held by foreign trusts with SA beneficiaries will be drawn into the SA tax net under the “controlled foreign company” regime

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)

APPORTIONMENT OF VAT INPUT CLAIMS

A2bGenerally speaking, the VAT portion of expenditure incurred by a VAT vendor in carrying on its enterprise may be claimed back from SARS when the VAT vendor submits is VAT returns on a periodical basis. Typically, these input tax claims are set off against the output tax liability that the VAT vendor may have. However, it is also often the case that the total input tax claims for a certain period may exceed the total output tax amount payable, resulting in a net refund amount due to the vendor for that particular period.

Section 17 of the VAT Act, 89 of 1991, governs the circumstances and the extent to which a registered VAT vendor may claim input tax to be set off against the output tax due to SARS. It specifically addresses those circumstances when goods or services are acquired partly for use as part of the VAT vendor’s enterprise, and partly for purposes of making VAT exempt or personal supplies. In such instances section 17(1) limits the amount of input tax to be claimed to “… an amount which bears to the full amount of such tax or amount, as the case may be, the same ratio (as determined by the Commissioner in accordance with a ruling …) as the intended use of such goods or services in the course of making taxable supplies bears to the total intended use of such goods or services”.

The ruling referred to in section 17(1) (Binding General Ruling 16, Issue 2) sets out the formula as:

y = a / (a b c) x 100

Where:

“y” = the apportionment ratio/percentage;

“a” = the value of all taxable supplies (including deemed taxable supplies) made during the period;

“b” = the value of all exempt supplies made during the period; and

“c” = the sum of any other amounts not included in “a” or “b” in the formula, which were received or which accrued during the period (whether in respect of a supply or not).

In other words, the calculation referred to aims to limit the input tax deduction to the extent that the expenditure item in question is incurred in the furtherance of the VAT enterprise only.

The calculation assumes that expenditure would be incurred by the VAT vendor generally proportionate to the total taxable supplies made by the enterprise vis-à-vis non-taxable supplies. It may very well be that that this assumption is inapplicable based on the facts of the VAT vendor. For example, where a company extends interest bearing loans to customers (thus exempt supplies) while also providing consulting services (a standard rate taxable supply), the above formula may very well be applicable to apportion the portion of input tax claimable on e.g. rent paid on offices and used both to earn interest and consulting income. However, where expenditure is incurred e.g. towards training for employees linked directly to the consulting business only, said expenditure would not be partly incurred for making taxable supplies and partly not, but wholly for the furtherance of the VAT enterprise and thus rank wholly as a claim for input tax.

BGR16 itself provides for an alternative basis of apportionment to be applied if a more appropriate basis exists. It should be borne in mind that section 17(1) also only comes into play if there is an apportionment to be made whatsoever.

We have noted that SARS is applying BGR16 strictly as part of VAT audits in recent months and even if it may be inappropriate to do so where it is to the disadvantage of taxpayers. Such instances should be monitored and pointed out to your tax advisors when applicable to take up with the SARS auditors timeously.

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)

PAYE AND DIRECTORS’ (AND MEMBERS’) REMUNERATION FROM 1 MARCH 2017

A1bMany would have noted reports in the national media that the Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 16 of 2016, was signed into law by President Zuma on 11 January 2017. One of the many changes that the Act brings into effect is the repeal of paragraph 11C of the Fourth Schedule to the Income Tax Act, 58 of 1962. The provision is repealed effective 28 February 2017, which means that a new regime is introduced for deducting PAYE from directors’ remuneration effective for the 2018 tax year commencing on 1 March 2017.

The repeal introduces a new dispensation for the calculation of employers’ liability to pay over PAYE on a monthly basis as relates to directors’ remuneration paid. (It bears reminding at this stage that members of close corporations are deemed to be directors for PAYE purposes too, so the same would apply to members’ remuneration paid from 1 March 2017.) Ironically, the “new” dispensation that now applies to directors’ remuneration is the same regime that has throughout applied to “regular” employees, and these regimes can now be said to be aligned.

The purpose of paragraph 11C was to provide for the unique circumstances presented in directors’ remuneration, whereby actual remuneration for directors would often be inconsistent and amount to ad hoc payments decided and approved from time to time.[1] Policy was therefore to have PAYE calculated on a notional amount calculated generally with reference to the actual directors’ remuneration paid out in the previous year of assessment.

However, with the introduction of section 7B (dealing with “variable remuneration”[2]) in the Income Tax Act itself in 2013, policy in this regard appears to have changed with National Treasury. If “regular” employees need to account for PAYE on an ongoing basis on variable remuneration (also inconsistent) received, the need to differentiate between employees and directors would fall away and no policy consideration would exist whereby there should be differentiated between the PAYE treatment of variable remuneration received by employees vis-à-vis directors’ remuneration.

The reference to section 7B is only relevant to explain the policy change. It is important to appreciate though that directors’ remuneration will likely not form part of “variable remuneration” as defined in section 7B, and therefore PAYE cannot be accounted for merely on an actual payment basis. PAYE should be calculated and paid over as and when remuneration accrues to an employee (with the exception of variable remuneration), and likewise to directors now too. This would be as and when the employee or director becomes entitled to the remuneration, and not only when the amounts are actually received subsequently (as would be the case for variable remuneration covered by section 7B).

[1] See the now archived SARS Interpretation Note 5 (Issue 2)

[2] A term defined in section 7B of the Income Tax 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)

BUDGET 2017: SUMMARY

A3bOn 22 February 2017, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivered his 2017 budget speech. The Budget Speech mentioned that, while global growth is slightly better, geo-political and economic uncertainties have increased. Furthermore, SA’s low growth trajectory provides a major challenge for government and citizens.

Transformation was a strong theme, following on from President Jacob Zuma’s SONA. Gordhan said that SA needs to radically transform the economy so that it is more diversified, with more jobs and inclusivity in ownership and participation. We need to build the widest possible partnership to promote consensus and action on a programme for inclusive growth and transformation, according to the Minister.

However, many people’s minds were on tax since it is government’s aim to raise R28bn from higher taxes. The extra income will come from five sources:

  • R12.1bn, will accrue through “bracket creep”. Taxable income thresholds are usually adjusted to offset inflation; this year the adjustment will be minimal.
  • R4.4bn will be raised through an increase to 45% in the marginal tax rate on income above R1.5 million. This will affect about 100 000 taxpayers.
  • R6.8bn will be raised through the hike from 15% to 20% in the dividend withholding tax.
  • R3.2bn will be generated by a net 39c per litre increase in the fuel taxes.
  • R1.9bn will come from increased excise duties for alcohol and tobacco of between 6% and 10%.

Hereby the highlights of the tax related budget proposals that will affect you:

  • A new top personal income tax (PIT) rate of 45% for individuals with a taxable income above R1.5 million.
  • The tax rate on trusts (other than special trusts which are taxed at rates applicable to individuals) will increase from 41% to 45%.
  • An increase in the dividend withholding tax rate from 15% to 20%, effective 22 February 2017. Please contact us should you have dividends to declare.
  • The general fuel levy will increase by 30 cents per litre on 5 April 2017 and 9 cents per litre on the road accident fund levy. This is likely to have an inflationary effect on the economy given the knock on effect on the cost of transport which will translate into an increase in the cost of goods
    to the consumer.

Click here to download a summary of the 2017 Budget.

 

THE CALCULATION OF INTEREST DUE BETWEEN TAXPAYERS AND SARS

a4bThe Tax Administration Act (TAA) introduces general principles to be applied when calculating interest due to or due by SARS. The aim is to create a fairer, more uniform calculation of interest for both the taxpayers and SARS. As with most things in life, there are exceptions. This article will discuss the general interest rules and some of their exceptions.
.

The following general concepts are laid down for the calculation of interest due between taxpayers and SARS:

  1. Interest is compensation for the lost opportunity to use money.
  2. Interest will be calculated daily on the outstanding balance and compounded monthly.
  3. Interest accrues from the effective payment date until the actual payment date of an outstanding amount. The effective payment date is the date when a tax becomes due and payable under a tax Act.

The following section explains four of the exceptions to the general concepts above:

Refunds due by SARS

If SARS must refund a taxpayer, interest on the refund is calculated from the date that SARS receives the excess amount which must be refunded to the date that SARS pays the refund to the taxpayer.

Where SARS sets off a refund against other tax owing by a taxpayer, the deemed date of payment of the refund is the set off date.

Provisional tax

In the case of the compulsory first provisional tax payment the effective date is the last business day of the sixth month after the end of the tax year. Interest will be calculated from the effective date, until the payment date or the effective date of the second provisional tax payment, whichever of the latter two comes first.

For the second provisional tax payment (also compulsory) the effective date is the last business day of the tax year. Interest is calculated from the effective payment date until the earlier of the actual payment date or the effective date (as prescribed) of the optional third provisional tax payment.

Delayed VAT refunds

No interest will be calculated on the refund for the period of the delay if the delay is caused by the taxpayer. The period of the delay is determined from the date that the taxpayer was required to submit information to SARS (e.g. bank details for the account into which SARS must pay the refund) until the date by which the taxpayer actually submitted the requested information.

Amounts refunded by mistake

If SARS refunds a taxpayer by mistake, the refund is deemed to be tax due and payable by the taxpayer. Interest will be calculated on the refund from the refund date until the date that the taxpayer pays the refund back to SARS.

A senior SARS official may remit imposed interest if he/she is satisfied that the interest was imposed as a result of circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control. There are only three cases where circumstances might be regarded as beyond the control of the taxpayer: serious illness or accident, natural or man-made disaster, or civil disturbance or disruption of services.

The TA Act strives to provide for an equal number of days to be used for calculating any interest due between taxpayers and SARS, and to create an opportunity to apply the same rules for the calculation of interest on all the different types of tax administered by SARS.

Reference List:

  • Accessed on 21 June 2015:
  • SARS Short Guide to the Tax Administration Act, 2011 (Act No. 28 of 2011), Chapter12

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)

DIRE PROVISIONAL TAX PENALTIES ON UNDERESTIMATION OF INCOME

a3bProvisional taxpayers are generally those taxpayers who earn income from sources other than a salary. In other words, PAYE is not deducted from these other sources of income on a monthly basis and paid over to SARS. As is the case with PAYE, provisional tax presents a cash flow mechanism to National Treasury through which to gather prepayments of an ultimate tax liability throughout a tax year on income which is not subject to the PAYE regime and which would otherwise only have been paid some time later when an annual income tax return is ultimately submitted. This can be as much as a year later.

To this end, provisional taxpayers are required to submit an estimate of their annual taxable income on a six-monthly basis. In the case of natural persons, provisional tax estimates are required to be submitted to SARS by way of a provisional tax return at the end of August each year, and again by the end of February. Legal persons similarly are required to submit estimates of taxable income at the end of the first 6 months of their financial years and again on the final day of the financial year.

For the first sixth-month estimate to be submitted an estimate is required to be made by the taxpayer of the estimated amount of taxable income that will be earned for the full year of assessment: half the amount of tax due on that estimated amount is required to be paid over to SARS at that date already, albeit after taking into account any amounts of PAYE also already deducted, where salary income is also earned. For the second provisional tax return, an estimate should again be submitted, and the tax on such estimate again be paid over (after taking into account any amounts of PAYE already deducted during the year as well as the first provisional tax payment already made).

The potential for manipulation by taxpayers is obvious and a legislated remedy is required to ensure that provisional taxpayers do not simply always submit an estimate of Rnil, thereby delaying the payment of amounts to SARS until the tax return for the applicable year itself is ultimately submitted. To this end, the Fourth Schedule to the Income Tax Act, 58 of 1962, makes provision for penalties to be levied where it appears at ultimate assessment date that a taxpayer has underestimated its taxable income for provisional tax purposes. For taxpayers earning more than R1 million in taxable income, taxpayers are allowed some leeway in that an estimate should at least have been 80% of the actual taxable income ultimately determined. This recognises that taxpayers are unlikely at year end to be able to accurately estimate their actual taxable income for the year already. However, if the estimated taxable income proves to be less than 80% of the actual taxable income, a 20% penalty is levied on the difference between the tax payable on 80% of the actual taxable income and the tax payable on the estimated amount returned by the taxpayer.

Similarly, taxpayers earning less than R1 million taxable income are subject to the same 20% penalty, but within a 90% margin of accuracy instead of 80%. These taxpayers are afforded additional relief though in that they are permitted to submit as an estimate a factor of their last assessed taxable income without running the risk of incurring a penalty, even if this amount ultimately is less than 90% of the actual taxable income determined.

Interestingly, no underestimation penalty exists for first provisional tax estimates, however SARS may query estimates submitted and require taxpayers to submit revised first provisional tax estimates. Where second provisional tax estimates are concerned though, taxpayers should take care in preparing estimated taxable incomes which are to be submitted for provisional tax purposes as failure to do so could lead to a significantly increased tax charge when the tax year is ultimately assessed by SARS.

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)