Government has pushed through a last minute tax on pets to be implemented from 1 April 2018, which will see pet owners pay a monthly levy for domesticated animals under their care.
The National Kitten, Avarian and Dog Levy Amendment was confirmed by home affairs’ portfolio committee on Friday after it was published in the Government Gazette for public comment only a month ago.
The new levy is among a raft of new tax rates for South Africans that come into effect from today, for the financial the 2018/19 tax year, as was announced in the 2018 Budget Speech.
It is hoped that these taxes will be used to help plug the major budget shortfall facing the economy.
How it works
To avoid disadvantaging poorer households, pet owners will be taxed based on the size of their primary property where the animals reside, expressed as an additional levy.
For a single dog or cat, the tax will be at 5% of a homeowner’s rates and taxes, increasing to a maximum of 20% of the levy as more registered pets are added. For households that are exempt from rates and levies (homes under R200,000) a standard fee of R5 per pet per month will be charged.
According to the documents, with South Africa home to some 10 million dogs and three million cats, the government expects to raise at least R10.1 billion annually with the new levy.
A 2015 study found that the average rates and levies paid in South Africa’s eight major metros was R1,320 a month. This means a single pet owner will end up paying R65 a month (or R780 a year).
Pet owners in Johannesburg – where the average rates are R1,700 – will pay slightly more (R85 a month) than those in Buffalo City (R45 a month), for example.
The initial phase will have a flat rate for dogs and cats, with smaller animals currently exempt from the process. However, in future phases, the government said it may introduce different rates to additional pets including rabbits, snakes, birds and hamsters.
Permits are already required for exotic pets, which are exempt from any future levies.
Plans are also being put in place to force pet owners to register their animals with the Department of Home Affairs. Each individual pet will need to documented, with their unique ID numbers stored on a smart ID card, similar to the national rollout of cards for citizens currently underway.
Pet owners will be able to register new pets, or remove the names of deceased pets stored on the system using a special online portal on the DOHA website, the department said.
The pet registration phase is expected to raise a further R2 billion in revenue for the department.
Proof of residence is key to the process, the department said, as this will also determine the maximum number of pets a household is allowed to keep.
If the number of pets exceeds the limit allowed for the property, owners need to register for special licences, akin to breeder or shelter licences. This is to avoid situations where too many animals are kept in inhumane conditions, as well as to adhere to health and safety regulations, the department said.
Pet owners found to be violating these laws will be fined a minimum of 100% of their rates and levies, increasing with each subsequent violation.
All pets will need to be registered before April 1, 2019.
Pet watchdog, the Pet Association of Southern Africa said it was not adequately consulted over the new levy. “This levy is an insult to all South African pet lovers,” said the association’s Doug Beagle. “This tax was rushed into law after only 30 days being set aside for comment. Its yet another money making scheme aimed at already indebted South Africans.”
The full amendments can be found in the official document (pdf).