2012/2013 Tax Rates for 01 March 2012 to 29 February 2013

South African Individual Taxpayers
Income exceeding …               But Below Tax
R 0 R 160,000 18% of each R1
R 160,000 R 250,000 R 28,800 + 25% of the amount above 160,000
R 250,000 R 346,000 R 51,300 + 30% of the amount above 250,000
R 346,000 R 484,000 R 80,100 + 35% of the amount above 346,000
R 484,000 R 617,000 R 128,400 + 38% of the amount above 484,000
R 617,000 and above R 178,940 + 40% of the amount above 617,000

Tax Rebates

Primary R 11,440
Secondary (Persons 65 and older) R 6,390
Tertiary (Persons 75 and older) R 2,130
The primary and additional age rebate is available to all South African individual taxpayers. The rebate is not reduced where a person has taxable income for less than the standard South African tax year. The rebate is given against the tax calculated and not against the actual income. The only instance where the rate is reduced is on death of the taxpayer.

Tax Calculation

Taxable income: R 200,000

Take from the tax table above the column into which the amount falls. This will be:

Income exceeding … But Below Tax
R 160,000 R 250,000 R 28,800 + 25% of the amount above R160,000
Your tax computation is on the first R R160,000: R 28,800
On the balance (R200,000 less R160,000) at 25%: R 10,000
Total R 38,800
Rebate (taxpayer under 65) (R 11,440)
Tax payable R 27,360

Taxable income: R 800,000

Take from the tax table above the column into which the amount falls. This will be:

Income exceeding … But Below Tax
R 617,000 and above R 178,940 + 40% of the amount above R 617,001
Your tax computation is on the first R 617,001: R 178,940
On the balance (R 800,000 less R 617,000) at 40%:: R 73,200
Total R 252,140
Rebate (taxpayer under 65) (R 11,440)
Tax payable R  240,700

Interest Exemption

Individuals under 65 R 22,800 per annum
Individuals over 65 R 33,000 per annum

Special rules apply to foreign interest (interest earned on bank account outside South Africa) as well as to individuals who are not tax resident in South Africa. Foreign interest is only exempt for the first R3,700 and this R3,700 must first be used to exempt foreign dividends. See below for non-residents.

Dividends Tax

Dividends Tax Dividends tax is imposed at 15% from 1 April 2012 on dividends declared and paid by resident companies and by non-resident companies in respect of shares listed on the JSE. Dividends are tax exempt if the beneficial owner of the dividend is a South African company, retirement fund or other exempt person. The tax is to be withheld by companies paying the taxable dividends or by regulated intermediaries in the case of dividends on listed shares. When a taxpayer receives South African dividends, the income is exempt from normal tax;

  • If an individual receives foreign dividends from a foreign company (with shareholding of less than 10% in the foreign company) the dividend is taxable at a maximum effective rate of 15%;
  • These were previously taxed at the maximum marginal rate;
  • Taxpayers are not allowed any deductions for expenditure to produce the foreign dividend;
  • The tax is subject to double tax treaty relief;
  • Exemptions apply for domestic retirement funds, Public Benefit Organizations and domestic companies;
  • The company paying in specie dividends, will be liable for payment of DWT;
  • Loans to shareholders at less than the official interest rate will attract DWT; and
  • STC credits from the old regime may be utilized until 31 March 2015.
Foreign dividends Most foreign dividends received by individuals from foreign companies (shareholding of less than 10% in the foreign company) are taxable at a maximum effective rate of 15%. No deductions are allowed for expenditure to produce foreign dividends.

Medical Deduction

Effective 1 March 2012 the medical scheme fees tax credit system will be introduced:

  • A medical scheme contribution tax credit will be available to taxpayers who belong to a medical scheme and are below the age of 65 (including persons with a disability), set at fixed amounts per month:
  • R 230 per month for contributions made by the taxpayer and R 230 for the first dependant; plus
  • R 154 per month in respect of each additional dependant.

Please note the following:

  • The medical tax credit is not refundable, and cannot exceed the amount of tax to be deducted.
  • The non–taxable fringe benefit in respect of medical scheme contributions paid by the employer on behalf of a taxpayer who is 65 years and older and who has not retired from that employer has been repealed. This means that the contribution amount paid by an employer on behalf of a taxpayer who is 65 years and older and has not retired from the employer, will now be a taxable fringe benefit. This is aligned to the treatment of all other taxpayers.
  • However, a person 65 years and older is still entitled to the full medical scheme contribution paid as a deduction. The net effect on such a person’s tax due is therefore nil.

Example 1

Taxpayer A earns a monthly salary of R16 040. He makes a monthly contribution of R1 203 to a pension fund and R2 263 to a medical scheme for himself and three dependants.

Tax Deduction System

Under the old system – after deductions for his pension contribution and his medical scheme contribution – his take home pay is R11 202.

Tax Credit System

Implementing the proposed tax credit system using the current tax rates (2011/12), Taxpayer A would take home R11 404 This is R202 more than he would get under the tax deduction system.

But due to the new tax relief system, Taxpayer A will take R11 519 home from March 2012 – an additional R317 compared to the old system.

Pension Contribution

Contributions to an approved South African pension fund:

The greater of R 1,750; or
7.5% of remuneration that qualifies for pension deduction
Arrear contributions of R 1,800 per annum where limits not used

Pension funds are often all considered not the best and should your employer have one the wisdom thereof should be reconsidered. This statement would not apply to where you have membership to a defined benefit fund

Retirement Annuity

Contributions to an approved South African retirement annuity fund:

The greater of R 1,750; or
R 3,500 less qualifying pension contributions; or
15% of net income minus income from retirement funding employment

Care should be taken before you buy a retirement annuity fund on the basis of having the tax deduction. Some financial advisors claim that you will have the tax deduction and then later you find out that only a small portion qualifies.

Donations Exemption

The deduction is limited to 10% of an individual’s taxable income to a public benefit organisation. Such an organisation must be specifically approved by the South African Revenue Service and they must issue with their receipt confirming your contribution. See Donations Tax below.

Deemed Travel

The deemed rate table for the 2012/2013 tax year is:

Vehicle value (including VAT) Fixed cost in Rand Fuel cost (c/km) Maintenance Cost (c/km)
If less than R 60,000 19,492 73,7 25,7
More than R 60,001 but less than R 120,000 38,726 77,6 29,0
More than R 120,001 but less than R 180,000 52,594 81,5 32,3
More than R 180,001 but less than R 240,000 66,440 89,6 36,9
More than R 240,001 but less than R 300,000 79,185 102,7 45,2
More than R 300,001 but less than R 360,000 91,873 117,1 53,7
More than R 360,001 but less than R 420,000 105,809 119,3 65,2
More than R 420,001 but less than R 480,000 119,683 113,6 68,3
Exceeding R 480,001 119,683 113,6 68,3

Company Cars

See Employee Tax Structuring for the more detailed rules.

The fringe benefit that will be added to an employee for the private usage of a business vehicle is 3.5% of the determined value of the vehicle. Where the vehicle is the subject of a maintenance plan at the time that the employer acquire the vehicle the taxable value is 3.25% of the determined value.

On assessment the fringe benefit for the tax year is reduced by the ratio of the distance travelled for business purposes substantiated by a log book divided by the actual distance travelled during the tax year.


Non-resident employees should see Expatriates regarding their housing benefit.

Where an employer provides an employee with a house, the fringe benefit value is normally the higher of the cost to the employer or a formula calculated on the employee’s salary. Let us know should you require the value calculated.

Subsistence Allowance

Subsistence may be claimed where an employee with his normal home in South Africa spends a night away from home on business for the employer. Where a subsistence allowance is paid there is no PAYE deduction on the amount. Certain deemed amounts are expended on such business trips. It must be remembered that these deemed amounts are only claimable where an employer actually pays an employee a subsistence allowance. The deemed claims are limited to the amount of subsistence allowance paid. These deemed amounts were updated and with effect from March 2012:

  • Travel outside South Africa: This is determined on a country-to-country basis. This is determined on a country-to-country basis. SARS has the comprehensive list of countries and the daily rates on its website (www.sars.gov.za)
  • Travel in South Africa: R 303 per day for meals and incidentals
  • Travel in South Africa: R 93 per day for incidentals only

Travel Calculator

Employees’ Tax

Every employer in South Africa must withhold PAYE (Pay-as-you-earn) from remuneration paid to an employee. The rate of withholding is determined by the South African Revenue Service and is published in their EMP10 Guidelines. Tax withheld must be paid on or before the 7th day after the month in which remuneration was paid.

It is the employer’s obligation to ensure the correct withholding of PAYE. Where an employer has not withheld the correct amount, it becomes a debt to the South African Revenue Service. When audited, employers often find their tax exposures to be very large and SARS is on a drive to audit all employers.

At the end of a tax year the employer must report the PAYE to SARS on an IRP501 form. This form shows what PAYE was withheld per employee. The income and benefits paid to an employee and the PAYE withheld is also shown on an IRP5 certificate that is handed to the employee. This document is filed by the employee with his or her personal income tax return.

Employees’ tax is a complex area and specific questions will be easier to answer than attempting to do the topic justice with a more detailed explanation.

Unemployment Insurance Fund – UIF

The rules applicable to who pays UIF and the methods of collecting this levy are very similar to PAYE. Employer and employees must contribute to UIF at a rate of 1% respectively. The limits are capped at R12,478 actual contribution for the employer and employee respectively.

Skills Development Levy – SDL

Skills Development Levy (SDL) operates also on similar rules that PAYE and many of the definitions are borrowed from the Income Tax Act. Only employers pay SDL and the rate is 1% of the same employee income on which PAYE is calculated. The payment system is through the same channels as PAYE. Employers paying annual remuneration of less than R500 000 are exempt from paying SDL.

Residency Test

The residency test is very important for any foreigner coming to South Africa or for any South African going abroad. The reasons being primarily that:

  • When you are resident of South Africa you pay tax on your worldwide income and as a non-resident you only pay tax on your South African “source” income and certain beneficial exemptions apply; and
  • When you loose your South African tax residency, for instance you go work abroad and your circumstances dictate that you become non-resident, there is a deemed disposal of certain of your assets for capital gains tax purposes and this may cause some cash flow problems.

An individual will be tax resident in South Africa by applying the following tests:

Firstly, you will never be tax resident in South Africa should you be tax resident, in terms of a double tax agreement entered between South Africa and a tax treaty partner, in the partner country. An example will be where you go and work in the United Kingdom and you become a full tax resident there while you do not have available accommodation in South Africa. The double tax treaty between South Africa and the United Kingdom will then determine that you are exclusively resident in the United Kingdom and the result is that you become non-resident for South African tax purposes.

Provided the above does not apply, you will be South African tax resident as long as you are “ordinarily resident” in South Africa. The meaning of “ordinarily resident” is that you consider South Africa your real home and plan to return to South Africa. This is the reason why many South Africans overseas remain “ordinarily resident” in South Africa and also the reason why foreign workers coming to South Africa on expatriate assignments ever become “ordinarily resident”.

When you are not treaty resident in another country and you are not “ordinarily resident” in South Africa, it is still possible for you to be tax resident because of a days test. The test determines whether you are tax resident in South Africa for a particular year of assessment and has two legs:

  • You are resident if you are, measured over six tax years, more than 91 days in of each of these years in South Africa; and
  • In the first five of these six years, you are more than 915 days in South Africa

Should the test be met you will be tax resident in South Africa for the sixth tax year.

The South African Revenue Service now asks specific questions to the above effect in your personal income tax return and has become a lot more aware and active in enforcing the residency tests.

Double Tax Treaties

South Africa has quite an extensive network of double tax treaties with other countries. The treaties are there to prevent tax evasion and to ensure that South African taxpayers do not suffer double taxation. List of the double tax treaties are available on the South African Revenue Service website. Almost all of our treaties are schooled on the OECD Model Tax Treaty and international interpretations will therefore often be given thereto.

Foreign Tax Credit

Foreign tax credits are generally given where a South African tax resident is taxed on income that has already been taxed in another country under a source principle and where any double tax agreement between South Africa and that other country allows that country to tax the income.

We will therefore not give tax credits where we have the right to first collect tax on income. This is pretty standard in all tax systems internationally.

The amount of credit must be claimed in an individual’s income tax return and the amount of credit given is limited to tax on the income being taxed twice. This ensures that tax credits can never be claimed against income that South Africa has the exclusive taxing right on. Exemptions however do exist. Please contact us for details.

Earnings Exemption

South African resident taxpayers who work abroad still need to declare their foreign income in their individual income tax returns. This income can however be exempted form South African tax by claiming a tax exemption where certain conditions of absence have been met. These conditions are:

  • It must be employment income; and
  • The income must be earned while you were working outside South Africa; and
  • The time that you must have been outside South Africa on work must be more than 183 days in any 365 day period and of this 183 days 60 days of absence must have been continuous; and
  • The income must become taxable in your hands during the 365 days referred to in the previous point.

This is an important exemption and South Africans working abroad must plan the effect hereof carefully to ensure that they qualify for the exemption.

Estate Duty

When you are reading this section when you have to calculate estate duty it is probably to late. Estate duty should be planned well before death. The rate is 20% of the amount determined by the Act as subject to estate duty. There are various exemptions such as everything that goes to a surviving spouse. What ever remains is subject to a standard exemption of R3.5 million per estate.

Donations Tax

Donations tax is levied at a flat rate of 20% on the value of property donated. The first R100 000 of property donated in each year by a natural person is exempt from donations tax.

In the case of a taxpayer who is not a natural person, the exempt donations are limited to casual gifts not exceeding R10 000 per annum in total.

Dispositions between spouses and donations to certain public benefit organisations are exempt from donations tax.

Capital Gains Rate

The first R30,000 of an individual taxpayer’s capital gains for a tax year is exempt from capital gains tax. In year of death, this amount is increased to R300,000.

The following are some of the specific exclusions:

  • R2 million gain/loss on the disposal of a primary residence,
  • Most personal use assets,
  • Retirement benefits,
  • Payments in respect of original long-term insurance policies, and
  • A small business exclusion of capital gains for individuals (at least 55 years of age) of R1.8 million when a small business with a market value not exceeding R10 million is disposed of.

The effective rate for companies is 18,6% and 26,7% for trusts.

Transfer Duty

Transfer to Normal Person:

First R 600,000 of cost of immovable property 0%
R 600,001 to R 1,000,000 3% of the value above R 600,000
R 1,000,001 to R 1,500,000 R12,000 plus 5% of the value above R 1,000,000
R 1,500,001 and above R 37,000 plus 8% of the value exceeding R 1,500,000

Transfer duty is paid where immovable property is acquired and the transaction is not subject to VAT. It also now applies to where the rights of ownership are transferred to immovable property where a company, close corporation or trusts are involved.