CHANGING BANKING DETAILS WITH SARS

B3In order to prevent fraud, the South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) requires confirmation of new or any changes to existing banking details and will only process any refunds due once these new details have been verified. (This often leads to frustration among taxpayers whose refunds are being withheld without notification of banking details that require verification.)

Taxpayers have various options available on how to proceed with this verification process. It can either be done in person at any SARS branch (if the person is not registered on eFiling) or the details can, in limited instances, be updated when completing the person’s income tax return (for both individuals and companies). The banking details can also be updated when requesting a transfer duty refund or by completing the relevant RAV01 form[1] on eFiling. SARS will not allow updates to the SARS system via other forms of communication (e.g. email, fax, post[2] or telephone).

Registering or changing of banking details for customs and excise clients cannot be done via eFiling. These taxpayers need to visit a SARS branch office and submit a completed DA185 application form[3] together with specific supporting documentation.

SARS will only accept as a valid bank account a cheque, savings or transmission account in the name of the relevant taxpayer. Credit card, bond and foreign bank accounts are not accepted.

Persons that are allowed to change banking details only include the relevant taxpayer, a registered representative of that taxpayer (whose details match those on the SARS system) or a registered tax practitioner acting on behalf of the taxpayer. A tax practitioner may not further delegate an employee to act on behalf of the client, but needs to be present him- or herself to request the necessary changes.[4] SARS lists certain exceptional circumstances where banking details may be changed by someone other than the aforementioned persons (for example, in the case of estates or where the taxpayer is a non-resident unable to go to a branch office).

SARS also provides detailed guidance on the supporting documentation what should be provided when changing banking details. Typically, this includes the original ID document of the taxpayer, a certified copy of that document and proof of the residential or business address of the taxpayer. The same is required of the registered representative or tax practitioner if applicable. SARS also requires the taxpayer to present bank statements of the account holder (not older than 3 months) as proof thereof that the bank details provided are correct.

To avoid having to stand in those long SARS queues (potentially, more than once) ask us to assist with this process.

[1] Registration, Amendment and Verification form

[2] This also includes placing documents in the drop-box at a SARS branch.

[3] Registration / Licensing of Customs and Excise

[4] See form ASPOA – Authority on Special Power of Attorney by Tax Practitioner.

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)

WELCOMING TAX NEWS FOR FRANCHISE OWNERS

B2The Tax Court has upheld a decision that a tax deduction allowed by section 24C of the Income Tax Act may be applied to franchisee costs. Section 24C permits the deduction of certain expenses in the current tax year assessment, where those expenses are not yet incurred, on the basis that these expenses will contractually be incurred in future years. This tax allowance protects businesses from being taxed on earmarked funds that bloat their annual earnings.

Where did this decision come?

The appeal involved the taxpayer (restaurant chain) against additional assessments raised by SARS for its 2011 to 2014 years of assessment. They arose from SARS’ refusal of deductions claimed by the taxpayer as allowances in respect of future expenditure in terms of section 24C of the Income Tax Act.

The crux of the dispute lies in whether or not the income received by the taxpayer from sales of meals to its customers can properly be regarded as arising directly from – or put differently, accruing in terms of – the franchise agreement itself. The taxpayer maintains that it can whereas SARS maintains it cannot.

However, as far as franchisees are concerned, it is clear that where a franchise agreement sets out an obligation to incur future expenditure, such expenditure may very well fall within the beneficial parameters of section 24C of the Act.

The Court’s decision

The Tax Court held that there need not be one physical contract document to give rise to section 24C’s benefit. Furthermore, while different parties were involved (the franchisor and the restaurant’s customers), the franchisee’s agreements with each were “inextricably linked” and “not legally independent and separate”.

The income deducted was, therefore, regarded as earned under the same contract as the taxpayer’s future expenditure, fulfilling the requirements of section 24C.

Reference:

  • B v Commissioner for the South African Revenue Services (IT14240) [2017] ZATC 3 (3 November 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)

DO YOU NEED A TAX CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE?

B3Taxpayers may require SARS to issue them with a tax clearance certificate for various reasons. This includes a general confirmation that the relevant taxpayer’s affairs are all in order and up to date (a so-called “Good Standing” tax clearance certificate), or a certificate being required to participate in certain government tenders.

Perhaps most notably in recent times, natural person taxpayers are also requesting “FIA” tax clearance certificates, being tax clearance certificates issued to taxpayers who intend to utilise their R10m annual foreign investment allowances to transfer funds abroad for investment purposes. The South African Reserve Bank (through its authorised dealers (most commercial banks)) will not grant approval for transfer of funds in this manner without confirmation from SARS in the form of a FIA certificate being issued that the individual’s tax affairs are all up to date and in order.

Many do not realise that the issuing of tax clearance certificates is a process specifically regulated by the Tax Administration Act.[1] Any tax clearance certificate must be requested in the prescribed form and manner by a taxpayer or his/her representative.[2] A tax clearance certificate must be issued in the prescribed format and include at least the original date of issue of the tax compliance status confirmation to the taxpayer, the name, taxpayer number and ID number (or company registration number) of the taxpayer.[3]

After receipt of an application in the prescribed form, SARS must either issue or decline to issue the tax clearance certificate requested within 21 business days, or such longer period as may reasonably be required if a senior SARS official is satisfied that the confirmation of the taxpayer’s tax compliance status may prejudice the efficient and effective collection of revenue.[4]

In practice, SARS often takes well in excess of the 21 business days in which to issue tax clearance certificates, especially for purposes of Foreign Investment Allowance applications. In terms of the Tax Administration Act, SARS may not take longer than the 21 days to process such an application, unless there is some form of proof that tax collections may be jeopardised if the certificate is issued (and which will rarely be the case). Where such delays are experienced though, taxpayers are in practice left with very few remedies, which are conceivably limited to either approaching the Tax Ombud (whose recommendations are not binding), the Public Protector or the High Court for an order forcing SARS to make a decision on issuing a certificate. Most taxpayers will therefore, sadly, simply have to endure SARS’ delays in processing tax clearance certificate applications.

  • [1] Section 256 of the Tax Administration Act, 28 of 2011
  • [2] Section 256(1)
  • [3] Section 256(4)
  • [4] Section 256(2)

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)

SARS TO INTENSIFY ACTION AGAINST TAX OFFENDERS

B1Despite the fact that SARS has upheld their philosophy of education, service, and thereafter enforcement, they have noticed an increase in taxpayers not submitting their tax returns by the stipulated deadlines, and not settling their outstanding debt with SARS. This is not limited to the current tax year but includes substantial non-compliance across previous tax years.

It is for this reason that from October 2017 SARS will intensify criminal proceedings against tax offenders. Failure to submit the return(s) within the said period could result in:

  • Administrative penalties being imposed on a monthly basis per outstanding return.
  • Criminal prosecution resulting in imprisonment or a fine for each day that such default continues.

Types of tax

SARS has reminded all taxpayers that, according to the Tax Administration Act No. 28 of 2011, it is a criminal offence not to submit a tax return for any of the tax types they are registered. These tax types are:

  • Personal Income Tax (PIT)
  • Corporate Income Tax (CIT)
  • Pay as You Earn (PAYE)
  • Value Added Tax (VAT)

It is also important to note that should any return result in a tax debt it must be paid before the relevant due date to avoid any interest for late payment and legal action. To avoid any penalties, interest, prosecutions as well as imprisonment, taxpayers are urged to rectify their compliance by submitting any outstanding returns as soon as possible. Please contact your tax advisor for assistance.

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)

VAT AND COMMON LAW THEFT

B1A recent decision has created some interest in whether the taxpayers failing to pay over the correct amounts of VAT can be charged – in addition to other statutory crimes prescribed by the VAT Act, 89 of 1991 – with the common law crime of theft.

In Director of Public Prosecutions, Western Cape v Parker[1] the Director of Public Prosecutions (“DPP”) appealed a decision by the Western Cape High Court that Parker, in his capacity as sole representative of a close corporation, had not committed common law theft in relation to the misappropriation of VAT due and payable by the close corporation to SARS. (Parker had been convicted of common law theft earlier in the Bellville Regional Court and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, which conviction he appealed to the High Court.)

The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal by the DPP as related to the charge of common law theft levied against Parker as related to the misappropriation of VAT amounts, due and payable to SARS. Essentially to succeed, the DPP had to show that the monies not paid over to SARS were in law monies received and held effectively by VAT vendors as agents or in trust on behalf of SARS, i.e. that SARS had established ownership over such funds even before it having being paid over. The court directed that no relationship could be established whereby VAT amounts due were received and held by VAT vendors prior to payment thereof over to SARS. In other words, the DPP could not show that Parker had misappropriated property which belonged to another – an essential element of common law theft that had to be present to secure a conviction.

VAT remains a tax in the proper sense of the word: monies received from customers were that of the taxpayer. Only once monies were paid over to SARS did it become SARS’ property. Even when the VAT in question became payable, such obligation did not per se create a right of ownership over the funds for SARS. Admittedly SARS has a legal claim against the taxpayer for an amount of tax, but it cannot be said to have established right of ownership over any specific funds held by the taxpayer.

It should be noted that Parker only appealed his conviction of common law theft. He was also convicted in the Regional Court of those crimes provided for in the VAT Act (section 28(1)(b) read with section 58(d)) which he did not appeal. His sentence in this regard was maintained, being either a fine of R10,000 of two years’ imprisonment, suspended for four years.

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)

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.
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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)