PROVISIONAL TAX RULES

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Since the provisional tax season has arrived, it is important to remember the rules regarding your estimates. The provisional tax payment must be received by SARS on or before the due date, 28 February 2017. Failure to do so could result in penalties and interest imposed by SARS.

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IMPORTANT RULES REGARDING PROVISIONAL TAX

Provisional tax is a method of paying tax due, to ensure the taxpayer does not pay large amounts on assessment, as the tax liability is spread over the relevant year of assessment. It requires the taxpayers to pay at least two amounts in advance, during the year of assessment, which are based on estimated taxable income. A third payment is optional after the end of the tax year, but before the issuing of the assessment final liability is worked out upon assessment and the payments will be off-set against the liability for normal tax for the applicable year of assessment.

  1. Provisional tax payments are calculated on estimated taxable income, which includes taxable capital gains for the particular year of assessment.
  2. It is imperative that if you have earned a capital gain during the current year that you declare it for provisional tax purposes.
  3. In the event that you do not advise us of a capital gain that should be included in provisional tax, an understatement penalty may very well be levied by SARS.

There are certain penalties for underpayment of provisional tax, which will be levied by SARS.

  1. If your actual taxable income is more than R1 million a penalty will be levied if the second period estimate is less than 80% of actual taxable income.
  2. If your actual taxable income is equal or less than R1 million a penalty will be levied should the second period estimate of taxable income for the year of assessment deviate from the basic amount applicable to that period.
  3. A penalty of up to 20% of the underpayment may be charged by SARS.
  4. Interest will be charged on all late payments.

Should your payment not reach the South African Revenue Service on or before the due date, a penalty of 10% will be levied on outstanding amounts and/or SARS will consider your estimated income for the 2nd provisional tax payment to be zero and will apply the relevant penalties.

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)

DIVIDENDS TAX COMPLIANCE

a2bOur clients will know that the dividends tax replaced the old Secondary Tax on Companies (“STC”) effectively 1 April 2012 already. Briefly, the STC was a tax on companies and calculated as a factor of dividends declared by that company. The regime was somewhat out of touch with international trends though (which also gave rise to certain anomalies when South Africa negotiated double tax agreements with other countries): the international norm is rather what we have in South Africa today too, being a tax on shareholders (as opposed to the dividend declaring company) and which tax is withheld from payment of dividends to the shareholders. The dividends tax is levied at 15%. By way of an example therefore, if a person (not exempt from the dividends tax) were to receive R100 in dividends from a South African company, that company will only pay R85 to the shareholder, and R15 would be withheld and paid to SARS on the shareholder’s behalf.

Although in our experience most of our clients exhibit an understanding of how the dividends tax regime operates, many of our corporate clients appear to be unaware of their filing obligations which go hand-in-hand with both dividend declarations as well as dividends received. Companies are required to file a dividend tax return when declaring a dividend (section 64K(1A)), but persons are also required to file a return if they receive a dividend exempt from the dividends tax. Since generally all South African tax resident companies are exempt from the dividends tax, this will effectively translate into South African tax resident companies having to file dividends tax returns for all South African dividends which they receive too.

The necessary dividends tax returns (the SARS DTR01 and DTR02 forms) are required to be filed by the end of the month following the month during which the relevant dividend was paid/received. The dividends tax payment (where relevant) should accompany said return.

Therefore, even if a company only pays and receives dividends none of which are subject to the dividends tax the exempt taxpayer is still obliged to file the requisite returns. The returns are also not the only compliance requirement to be observed: where a shareholder relies on a double tax agreement in terms of which a reduced dividends tax rate is to be applied (as opposed to the statutorily imposed 15% applicable domestically), or that person is exempt from the dividends tax altogether, that shareholder must inform the company of this status by way of a declaration made, together with an undertaking that the shareholder will inform the company should the status of the aforementioned change in future. In the absence of such a declaration, the company must still withhold dividends tax even if the shareholder is objectively speaking exempt from the dividends tax.

As one will no doubt realise, non-observation of the relevant dividends tax compliance requirements – even if they do appear to be somewhat trivial and admittedly not practically heavily policed by SARS – one ignores these requirements at one’s own peril. In this instance non-compliance may have a significant impact if a taxpayer is upon investigation found to be wanting in this regard.

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)

OBJECTING TO AN ASSESSMENT

One of the risks of not using a tax professional to attend to one’s tax affairs arises when SARS assesses an individual’s income tax return.  Quite often, a return submitted is assessed incorrectly, or on a basis in terms of which SARS is disputing certain submissions made by the taxpayer in filing his or her (or even a family trust or company’s) income tax return.

It is then important to have an experienced tax professional at your disposal who is aware of the specifically legislated and prescribed dispute resolution rules that are required to be followed in order to object to an assessment with which the taxpayer disagrees.  The benefit of using a tax professional becomes even more pronounced when considering that individuals without tax experience and knowledge very often do not understand correspondence issued by SARS (and which would be informing the taxpayer of an adverse assessment for example being issued), and further that they can check assessments issued to ensure that these have indeed been issued on the basis on which the relevant return has been filed.

Various requirements exist for a valid objection to be lodged with SARS, and these are prescribed in terms of Rule 7(2) of the Rules published in terms of section 103 of the Tax Administration Act, 28 of 2011, which govern the dispute resolution process where SARS is concerned.  The requirements for a valid objection include that the objection be lodged in the prescribed format and by using the correct form, and that the objection be lodged within 30 business days from the date of the assessment issued.

If a taxpayer is unsure of the basis on which SARS would have issued an assessment, the taxpayer is entitled to first request reasons from SARS for the assessment issued in order to allow them to consider whether lodging an objection would be necessary or not to dispute the assessment (Rule 6).  These reasons, if requested, must be clear enough to allow the taxpayer to understand why SARS would have issued an adverse assessment and to then be able to lodge an objection against the assessment in question if required.  A request for reasons too (as is the case for an objection) needs to be submitted to SARS within 30 business days from the date of the assessment, where after the objection must be lodged within 30 business days of these reasons being provided to the taxpayer (and which SARS is obliged to provide, if requested, within 45 business days from receipt of the request for reasons from the taxpayer).

The Rules further make provision for an unsuccessful objection to be appealed to the Tax Board or the Tax Court, or for the Taxpayer and SARS to enter into ADR (‘alternative dispute resolution’) to have the dispute resolved.

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 PENALTIES: UNDERSTATEMENT PENALTIES IN THE TAX ADMINISTRATION ACT

A1_BThe Tax Administration Act, 28 of 2011, introduced the notion of ‘understatement penalties’ which are levied on a percentage based method. The penalties are levied depending on which behaviour is exhibited by the taxpayer, to be classified in terms of the below table contained in section 223(1):

1 2 3 4 5 6
Item Behaviour Standard case If obstructive, or if it is a ‘repeat case’ Voluntary disclosure after notification of audit or investigation Voluntary disclosure before notification of audit or investigation
(i) ‘Substantial understatement’ 10% 20% 5% 0%
(ii) Reasonable care not taken in completing return 25% 50% 15% 0%
(iii) No reasonable grounds for ‘tax position’ taken 50% 75% 25% 0%
(iv) Gross negligence 100% 125% 50% 5%
(v) Intentional tax evasion 150% 200% 75% 10%

It is not clear how a taxpayer’s behaviour is to be classified for purposes of considering at which rate an understatement penalty is to be imposed, or if it is even possible that certain taxpayer behaviour may not even fall within the table to begin with. Suffice it to say that in terms of section 102(2) of the Tax Administration Act, the burden of proving whether the facts on which SARS based the imposition of an understatement penalty is upon SARS.

In terms of section 222, the penalty may only be levied where an ‘understatement’ is present, being any prejudice to SARS or the fiscus as a result of:

  1. A default in rendering a return;
  2. An omission from a return;
  3. An incorrect statement in a return; or
  4. Where no return was required, the failure to pay the correct amount of tax.

To calculate the penalty levied, the applicable percentage in the above table is applied to the shortfall amount, being the tax effect in question for which the taxpayer is penalised. For example, if an income tax deduction claimed by a taxpayer is disallowed by SARS which seeks to penalise the claiming of the deduction, the applicable penalty percentage is applied to the tax effect that the deduction would have had had it been allowed.

Taxpayers are enabled through section 224 to object against the imposition of an understatement penalty. What is further noteworthy is that, in the event that a penalty is levied for a ‘substantial understatement’, the penalty must be remitted by SARS if the taxpayer was in possession of a positive tax opinion from an independent registered tax practitioner supporting its tax position. It therefore makes sense, if only to mitigate against the levying of penalties, to obtain a tax opinion from a registered tax practitioner prior to entering into a transaction.

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 ommissions 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 LINK BETWEEN CGT AND INCOME TAX

A4_bThe name “Capital Gains Tax” (CGT) can create the impression that CGT stands on its own as a seperate tax from the rest of the taxes but this is not the case. CGT forms part of the Income Tax system and capital gains and capital losses must be declared in the annual Income Tax return of a taxpayer.

If a taxpayer is not registered for Income Tax

If a natural person is not registered for Income Tax and his/her taxable income consists only of a taxable capital gain or a deductible capital loss, the amount of which is more than R30 000, the person will have to register as a taxpayer with SARS. In addition, the new taxpayer will have to submit an Income Tax return for that tax year.

If a taxpayer is already registered for Income Tax, they don’t have to register for CGT seperately as CGT forms part of Income Tax.

Tax treatment of capital gains in three steps

The first step is to calculate the capital gain according to the provisions of the CGT Act. A discussion of the formulas to calculate the amount of capital gains and capital losses fall outside the scope of this article.

The second step is to reduce the capital gain with any exclusions which might be applicable. Please contact your tax advisor to find out if you qualify for any CGT exclusions.

Step three will be to include the taxable amount of the capital gain in the taxable income of the taxpayer. There are different inclusion rates for the following categories of taxpayers:

  • For natural persons, deceased or insolvent estates, and special trusts the taxable inclusion rate is 33,3%. In other words, 33,3% of the capital gain will be added to the taxable income of the taxpayer and the taxpayer will have to pay more income tax.
  • Companies, close corporations and trusts (excluding special trusts) have a taxable inclusion rate of 66,6%. This means that 66,6% of the capital gain will be added to the taxable income and taxed at the normal income tax rate of the taxpayer.

As a taxable capital gain will be added to the taxable income of a taxpayer, it will have an effect on certain deductions in the income tax calculation while other deductions will not be affected.

The following tax deductions for individual taxpayers will not be affected by the inclusion of a taxable capital gain in the taxable income of the taxpayer:

  • Pension fund contributions
  • Retirement annuity fund contributions

Tax deductions that will be affected by the inclusion of a taxable capital gain in an income tax calculation are the following:

  • Medical expenses (only applicable to individual taxpayers)

If a taxpayer’s medical deduction is subject to the 7,5% of taxable income-limitation, the deductible amount for medical expenses will become smaller if a taxable capital gain is included in the taxable income.

  • Section 18(A) donations

A taxpayer can include the taxable capital gain in taxable income before calculating the 10%-limit for the tax deduction of Section 18(A) donations. The allowable tax deduction of these donations will then increase by 10% of the amount of the taxable capital gain.

Tax treatment of capital losses

Capital losses may not be deducted from taxable income but must be set off against current or future capital gains. If there is insufficient capital gains to offset the full capital loss in the current tax year, the unclaimed balance of the capital loss is carried forward to the next tax year(s) until it has been fully offset against future capital gains.

As a capital gain/loss can have a material effect on a taxpayer’s liability for Income Tax, it is crucial to calculate these amounts accurately and take advantage of all the exclusions that might be applicable to the taxpayer. For further assistance regarding any aspect of capital gains/losses, please contact your tax advisor.

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) 

Reference List:

WILL SARS ALLOW YOU TO DEDUCT YOUR COMPANY/CLOSE CORPORATION’S ASSESSED LOSS?

A2_bUnder normal circumstances SARS will allow a taxpayer to carry forward the previous tax year’s assessed loss and set it off against the current tax year’s taxable income. However, there are certain circumstances under which SARS will not allow a taxpayer to carry forward the previous year’s assessed loss and the assessed loss will be lost for set off against future taxable income as well.

If the following two requirements are not met, SARS may not allow a business to carry forward its assessed loss to the current tax year:

Requirement 1: Carrying on a trade during the current year of assessment (the “trade” requirement)

The onus rests on the company/close corporation to prove to SARS that it was indeed trading during the current tax year. In deciding whether the taxpayer carried on a trade, SARS will take into account, amongst others, the following factors as they apply to the taxpayer’s specific business:

a)  The amount and type of expenses incurred during the tax year

b)  The extent of the business activities

c)  The nature of its general business activities

d)  Whether the business activities were actively pursued

e)  The number of transactions entered into during the tax year

The following aspects are not necessarily enough to prove that a trade has been carried on:

a)  An intention to trade in the future

b)  Activities to prepare for future trading

c)  Holding meetings

d)  Preparing financial statements

Requirement 2: Earning income from trading (the “income from trade” requirement)

A company/close corporation may indeed have traded (and incurred expenses) during a tax year, but the related income will only be realised in the following or a later tax year due to the type of industry in which the business operates. Once again, the onus rests on the business to prove to SARS that it was actually trading in the current tax year despite the fact that no income was earned.

SARS acknowledges that it is possible that a business may have carried on a trade without earning an income in the same tax year. Take a property rental company for instance. The company could have been actively advertising and marketing available rental properties without finding any suitable tenants. This would result in a loss for the tax year as expenses was incurred but no income earned in the same period. In this case it is clear that a trade was carried on and SARS should allow the set off of an assessed loss in the current tax year. However, SARS will only consider allowing the set off of the assessed loss if:

  • It was incidental that no income was earned during the current tax year despite the fact that the business was actively trading; or
  • No income was earned during the current tax year as a result of the business cycle or nature of the trade in which the business operates.

As can be seen from the above discussion, the deduction of assessed losses is a grey area. The onus rests on the business to prove to the satisfaction of SARS that it meets the “trade” and “income from trade” requirements as set out above. SARS will assess each individual business based on its unique facts and circumstances, taking into account the abovementioned factors to determine if the business will be allowed to carry forward its assessed loss.

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.

Reference list: