Major headache for taxpayers looking to take their money out of South Africa

 ·22 Mar 2024

South Africans looking to move their money out of the country are struggling to comply with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB’s) rules on international transfers.

Amidst the troubling economic environment, characterised by low growth, faltering SOEs and high unemployment, many wealthy South Africans are looking to move themselves or their wealth offshore.

However, as a South African tax resident, you are subject to tax on your worldwide income.

During a recent roadshow from Henley, the most common question from attendees was, “How do we get our money out of South Africa?”.

Tax Consulting SA, a partner of Henley, said that this trend differed greatly from prior years, as SARS introduced a new system for South Africans looking to take money offshore, called the Approval for International Transfer (AIT).

Although the new streamlined process was introduced in April 2023, Tax Consulting SA said that a number of advisors and clients are struggling to comply with SARS’s strengthened tax treatment of international transfers.

Compliance challenges

From SARS’s perspective, the “upgrade” to its money movement approval process, particularly when it comes to foreign assets, was logical.

The AIT Pin is now required not only for taxpayers who are non-resident in South Africa but also for residents wishing to approve fund movements out of South Africa in excess of the R1 million Single Discretionary Allowance (SDA).

“When considered practically, this would translate to every programme on offer for residency (golden visa) or citizenship, requiring the applicants to secure an AIT for success,” said Tax Consulting SA.

“Where SARS is approached from the correct position of having completed a reasonability analysis on the funds to be transferred and all required supporting documentation is submitted, we have found them to be quite quick in issuing the sought-after AIT Pin.”

However, where the AIT needed exceeds R10 million (after the R1 million SDA), the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) needs to give further approval.

“It is this tier of compliance, which, without the correct channels, becomes the stumbling block for many High-Net-Worth Individuals.”

Read: South Africa kisses thousands of doctors, professionals and businesses goodbye

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter