Yolandi Esterhuizen, Compliance Manager at Sage, on a few points that she hopes Minister Gordhan will clear up in his Budget Speech this year.
We’ll all be watching Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, closely on 22 February when he will present his Budget for the 2017/8 tax year.
With a revenue shortfall of around R28 billion to plug and slow economic growth, he is expected to announce some tough tax measures to ensure government has enough money in its coffers to meet its objectives.
Compulsory annuitisation of provident funds
Members of retirement funds and payroll administrators alike would like to see clarity around this long outstanding issue. At the moment, provident fund members may take all of their retirement savings as a lump sum upon retirement.
Government wishes to align provident funds with pension funds and retirement annuities – with these classes of retirement funding, members must reinvest their retirement pay-out into a vehicle that will pay them annuities each month.
Related: Budgeting Basics
In January last year, Government announced that compulsory annuitisation of provident funds would take effect from 2018. However, provident fund members started to enjoy a tax deduction on their contributions from March 2016.
Government said last year that it would review the tax benefit for provident fund members to achieve fairness between all retirement funds if an agreement is not reached within two years. Removing the deduction would cause a decrease in the net pay of many individuals who pay into provident funds.
The #feesmustfall movement has yet to lose momentum and funding for tertiary education remains high on the agenda. We may hear more about how government will incentivise businesses to help employees pay for their children’s university education through loans or bursaries going forward, given the pressure to help youngsters pay for their education.
The Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2016 promulgated on 19 January 2017 provides for an increase in the amounts which are exempt in terms of bursaries provided to employees’ relatives.
If an employee earns more than R400 000 a year, the full bursary is taxable. R400 000 or less, a portion of the bursary is exempt.
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National minimum wage
The National Minimum Wage Panel Report last year recommended that government sets a minimum wage of R3,500 per month for full-time workers, or R800 per week, or R20 per hour.
This follows extensive consultation between government, business and labour, with the aim of setting a wage that reduces poverty and inequality. It seems that the National Minimum Wage may be implemented sooner than many of us expected.
The devil will be in the detail. Will there be any regional or sectorial exclusions? How long will business have to phase in the new minimum wage?
Government knows that there is a balance between setting the minimum wage that will have positive impact on inequality without affecting job creation, undermining the sustainability of the country’s enterprises or triggering high inflation.
National health insurance
The White Paper on National Health Insurance (NHI) was published for comment on 11 December 2015. Though pilots are underway for the NHI, there isn’t much clarity about how it will be funded. A payroll tax is one option government has put on the table, but a VAT increase is also an option.
NHI is being implemented in phases over a 14-year period that started in 2012, but most stakeholders are anxious to get clarity about the funding model. Hopefully, Minister Gordhan will provide some insight in his Speech.
It is yet to be seen whether the Minister will opt for new taxes in the vein of carbon and sugar taxes announced in recent years, hike personal or company taxes, or increase the VAT rate.
We have long speculated that government may add an additional income tax bracket for high income earners, or look at wealth taxes in its search for new revenue and its quest to reduce inequality.
Millions of entrepreneurs in the world’s Small & Medium Businesses trust Sage as they power the global economy. We will be waiting to see how the Budget will affect payrolls and accounting so that our customers will be ready for any new rules and regulations the government introduces.