You could soon be paying VAT on top of a fuel levy in SA: analyst

 ·17 Feb 2018

With an economic downgrade to junk status, a slowly growing economy and an increasing deficit, many economists believe that the 2018 budget will see tougher measures introduced.

Craig Pheiffer, chief investment strategist at Absa Stockbrokers & Portfolio Management agrees, saying that the average consumer is most likely to be the hardest hit.

“The disposable income of an average South African has been under pressure for the past few years because of rising interest rates and inflation,” he said.

“This is probably not going to get better anytime soon, which means that the less money people have to spend, the less money gets pushed back into the economy. This has far-reaching implications for economic growth.”

A key part of determining this impact, will be whether finance minister Malusi Gigaba will choose to increase VAT rates next week, said Pheiffer.

“It just won’t be politically acceptable to increase the VAT rate across the board on all items because of the massive effect this would have on the poor,” he said.

“Yet, VAT currently accounts for 25% of the overall budget revenue and is probably the most effective tax lever to pull, through a higher overall rate or a new higher luxury good rate, to generate additional revenue to help reduce government debt.

“The Davis Tax Commission found disfavour with a luxury good VAT rate but one can’t rule out the possibility completely,” he said.

Restructuring the way fuel is taxed

Alongside a new VAT rate, there is also the possibility of a restructuring in the way fuel is taxed in South Africa, said Pheiffer.

“We currently have a zero rating on fuel, which means that we don’t pay any VAT on petrol or diesel,” he said.

“We do however pay fuel levies – which is a few rands that’s added to the amount that you pay for every litre of fuel that you need.”

According to Pheiffer, adding VAT to this total is also a tricky solution.

“They would either have to take the fuel levy away and replace it with VAT, but I don’t know how much extra revenue they’ll actually get from that.

“Another option, of course, is to just add an additional VAT amount on top of the amount that we currently pay for petrol and diesel at the pump,” he said.

Read: Here are the important tax increases you can expect at the end of the month

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