This is who pays taxes in South Africa

 ·4 Jan 2021

National Treasury and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) have published the annual Tax Statistics for 2020.

The 2020 edition provides an overview of tax revenue collections and tax return information for the 2016 to 2019 tax years, as well as the 2015/16 to 2019/2020 fiscal years.

“The 2019 technical recession led to slow growth in revenue collections, which culminated in a downward revision of revenue estimates,”  SARS said.

“Whilst revenues generated from the tax system move in tandem with the economy, on average, the growth in tax revenues has been higher than economic growth.”

Tax revenue collected amounted to R1 355.8 billion, growing year-on-year by R68.1 billion (5.3%), mainly supported by Personal Income Tax (PIT) which grew by R35.3 billion (7.2%).

Personal Income Tax

The geographic and demographic analysis of the assessments of the taxpayers who had been assessed as at the end of October 2020 showed some interesting results:

  • 1,776,301 (40.9%) of assessed taxpayers were registered in Gauteng;
  • 580,464 of assessed taxpayers lived in the Johannesburg Metro and were taxed on an average taxable income of R512,785;
  • 1,171,410 (27.0%) of assessed taxpayers were aged between 35 to 44 years;
  • 2,352,902 (54.2%) of assessed taxpayers were male and 1,985,021 (45.8%) were female;
  • The assessed taxpayers had aggregate taxable income of R1.6 trillion and a tax liability of R360 billion. Their average tax rate was 22.5% compared to 21.6% in the previous tax year;
  • Income from salaries, wages and other remuneration, as well as pension, overtime and annuities, accounted for 77.6% of total taxable income.

This graph shows how income tax collection looks distributed geographically:

This graph shows how income tax collection is distributed between males and females:

This graph shows how the 2.9 million taxpayers’ taxable income shifted across the tax brackets due to increases in taxable income and other market factors:

Other taxes

Statistics regarding corporate tax reveal that out of the 780,480 companies assessed as at the end of July 2020 for tax year 2018, 25.2% had positive taxable income.

Furthermore, 46.6% had taxable income equal to zero and the remaining 28.2% reported an assessed loss.

In 2019/20, 78.5% of active VAT vendors were companies or close corporations. They contributed 92.6% to Domestic VAT payments and accounted for 90.9% of VAT refunds.

Although individuals (sole proprietors) comprised 16.1% of VAT vendors, they contributed 2.7% of Domestic VAT payments and received 1.2% of VAT refunds.

Import VAT and Customs Duties accounted for 13.3% and 4.1% of the year’s Total Tax Revenue respectively; resulting in a 17.4% aggregate which was slightly below the 17.6% average over the preceding five fiscal years.

In 2019/20, Capital Gains Tax (CGT) of R14.1 billion was raised of which R6.4 billion was attributable to individuals and trusts and R7.7 billion to companies.

This reflects a significant decline of R3.8 billion (21.3%) against the R17.9 billion raised in 2018/19. An aggregate of R156.7 billion has been raised since the introduction of CGT in October 2001, with R72.5 billion from individuals and trusts and R84.2 billion from companies.

Read: 5 things South African taxpayers should know when SARS owes you a refund

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