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You’re (Probably) Paying More Tax Than You Should

Tax laws aren’t as complicated as you think. In fact, it’s easier than ever to find legitimate ways of saving on tax, provided you’re looking for them.

Monique Sharland




Tax is often confusing to business owners because of the complex nature of the law itself. Some of the apparent complexities have arisen due to many tax anti-avoidance measures being incorporated into the Income Tax Act over the years.

Quite frankly, these anti-avoidance measures have actually simplified the interpretation of the law, rather than obscuring it, and by so doing have plugged up loopholes, creating a fair and equitable basis on which tax revenue is collected, and a solid base on which to determine legitimate tax savings.

1. Get your structure right

The way that a company is set up has significant implications for the amount of tax payable. Your business can save up to a maximum of R74 550 in tax annually if structured properly. The key is to structure the company so that it can take full advantage of the tax saving benefits of a ‘Small Business Corporation’.

Here is a brief outline:

  • An annual turnover not exceeding R20 million.
  • Not more than 20% of revenue derived from investment income or ‘personal services’.
  • Shareholders or members are all natural persons.
  • Members or shareholders do not own shares (other than listed shares) or members interest in any other company.

Related: 5 Tax Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask In 2016

2. Don’t leave money on the table

Out-of-pocket expenses landed as the number one overlooked deduction that accountants have observed, followed by motor expenses. So save those receipts for coffee shop, lunch, parking and cell phone pay-as-you-go airtime and depreciate that iPhone and iPad — it all adds up.


3. Travel allowance versus company car

Which is more tax efficient? Whether you receive a travel allowance or your company owns the motor vehicle you use for both private and business purposes, both are taxed.

To obtain a tax deduction on either a travel allowance or on the fringe benefit portion of the use of a company motor vehicle will require you to keep a log book.

The amount of a travel allowance can be calculated to optimise tax savings, whereas you would pay more tax on the use of a company vehicle. However, tax savings should not be the only consideration as you could have more cash in your pocket if you compare the tax savings to the cost of purchasing a vehicle and its related running costs.

4. Is it better to take a dividend or a bonus?

A dividend’s effective tax rate is 38,8% as you need to also factor in company tax of 28%. Therefore, a business owner will save tax by paying himself a bonus up to R4,3 million as opposed to paying a dividend. However, if your business qualifies as a ‘small business corporation’, you will receive even greater tax savings if you distribute a dividend up to R550 000, as opposed to paying a bonus.

A word of caution though, significant penalties can be imposed by SARS if directors pay low monthly salaries and boost their earnings by way of an annual bonus to reduce their monthly PAYE payments.

Related: Entrepreneurs And Tax: 101


5. Untaken employee leave

Your employee contracts should, at the minimum, comply with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. As annual leave can be taken up to six months after the annual leave cycle, ensure that your business claims a deduction for outstanding leave pay at the end of the financial year.

6. Charge your company interest on your loan account

Charge your company interest on monies invested by you on loan account as it will effectively save company tax of 28% on the interest amount. However, the interest will be taxed in your individual hands, but the first R23 800 is tax free! This is worth doing if your personal income tax’s effective rate is less than 28%, which is an annual taxable income of R725 000 or less.

Related: Ways To Save More Tax

Meeting with your accountant to go over your specific tax situation will allow them to best advise you on what to do to keep your tax bill, and the stress over it, as low as legally possible.

Monique Sharland is the CEO of Business Accounting Network. She is a professional accountant, SME tax law expert and franchising specialist.

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Take The Toll Out Of Tax

Remember that degree you’ve got in taxation? Of course you don’t, because you didn’t. Your job isn’t understanding tax code – that’s ours.

QuickBooks SA



When you connect QuickBooks to your bank, credit cards and other accounts, your transactions are automatically imported for you, helping you ensure that come tax time, your books are balanced, and every rand is accounted for.

Once you find the right QuickBooks product for your business needs on your computer, downloading the QuickBooks companion app turns your phone’s camera into an instant receipt scanner. Snap, save and store tax deductible receipts with built-in receipt scanner. Simply take a photo of a receipt and QuickBooks will attach it to the expense in your books. Plus, the scanned receipt is saved as a digital file for documentation at tax time.

Not only does the QuickBooks app come with built-in receipt scanning to help you track and organise your expenses, it can enable you to run your business with the following features:

  • Automatically sort your expenses and save over 40 hours a month
  • Easily send invoices and payment reminders directly from your mobile device, anytime anywhere
  • Imports your transactions for you so you’ll spend only minutes reconciling your accounts at the end of the month
  • Create customised reports to get important insights specific to your business

Join over 5.6 million customers globally and find the QuickBooks plan that works for your small business on Save 30% on your subscription today! Terms and conditions apply.

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7 Direct And Indirect Taxes You Should Consider Before Registering Your Business

Tax planning is critical for us all more so for the success of your newly registered entity.

Kenlin Stride




If your business has been registered, guess what in the eyes of the law your business is now a legal entity, congratulations. What does this mean? Well this means your business is a distinct legal entity separate from you in the eyes of the law, this means your business can now enter into contracts to purchase assets, utilise debt instruments and hire staff amongst other things. This unfortunately also means your business is subject to tax compliance. Let me try and give you a snapshot of what taxes to be aware of as a business owner however not all will automatically be applicable to your business.

1. Income Tax

Income tax is one of the state’s main sources of revenue and is levied on taxable income determined in terms of the Income Tax Act. All businesses must be registered for Income Tax. It is illegal not to be registered for Income Tax if you have a business.

2. Provisional Tax

The payment of provisional tax is to assist taxpayers in meeting their tax liabilities by way of installments out of their taxable income. Income tax is only paid once the full 12 months of trading is complete. It would be impractical to expect taxpayers to pay one large lump sum of income tax to SARS. Companies automatically fall into the provisional tax system.

Related: Tax Basics For Business Owners

3. Small Business Corporations Tax

SBC Tax was introduced as a tax relief measure for small business. SBC Tax will not be calculated on the flat 28% of taxable income. Dependent on your annual taxable income, you will be liable at the percentages in the table.

4. Pay As You Earn

Employees’ tax refers to the tax required to be deducted by an employer from an employee’s remuneration (salary) paid. The process of deducting or withholding tax from remuneration as it is earned by an employee is commonly referred to as PAYE.

5. Value Added Tax

This is an indirect tax levied on the ‘sale’ and ‘purchase’ of goods and services. This tax is not compulsory unless your turnover has exceeded R 1 000 000 mark however you choose to register voluntarily if it makes sense for your business strategy.

Related: How to Reduce Your Taxable Income

6. Unemployment Insurance Fund

UIF contributions are compulsory for all employees working more than 24 hours a month. The contributions are paid to the Department of Labour (DOL), or can be included in the SARS payment of PAYE on the EMP201

7. Workman’s Compensation

An employer must register with the Commissioner within seven days after the day on which he employs his first employee, (this includes the Director or Owner of the company)

You might be thinking tax compliance, what’s the big deal? I’ve been doing that most of my adult life, well personal tax is very different to business tax. As the director of your newly registered business it is assumed that you have done the research as to what laws to comply with as a business owner. In reality however the thrill of having a business overshadows the mundane compliance elements that go hand in hand when running a business. Let’s face it as much as your business is now a legal entity your business won’t do the research and comply with the necessary taxes on its own that responsibility lies with the director and when I say director I mean you.

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Tax Refunds – What You Need To Know

You are able to object/dispute any SARS decision not to release the refund on efiling or through your tax practitioner.

Maselaelo Mphela




Most taxpayers are not aware of the requirements for a tax refund to be facilitated and SARS very often will delay paying out the refund. In this article, we will look at the requirements taxpayers need to be aware of and the Tax Ombud’s report on the investigation into alleged delayed payment of refunds as a systemic and emerging issue in terms of section 16 (1) (b) of The Tax Administration Act No. 28 of 2011 (TAA).

What you need to know as a taxpayer:

  • The tax refund must be claimed within 5 years from date of submission of the return.
  • SARS has the right to withhold the refund as per section 190 (2) of TAA: “SARS need not authorise a refund as referred to in subsection (1) until such time that a verification, inspection or audit of the refund in accordance with Chapter 5 has been finalised.”
  • Authorisation of payment of refund done once SARS is satisfied with the acceptable security provided by the taxpayer in terms of section 190 (3) of TAA: “SARS must authorise the payment of a refund before the finalisation of the verification, inspection or audit if security in a form acceptable to a senior SARS official is provided by the taxpayer.”
  • As a taxpayer, you need to ensure that you verify your banking details with SARS and that there are no outstanding returns in order for your refund not to be delayed.
  • Any decision not to refund by SARS is subject to an objection and appeal by the taxpayer in terms of section 190 (6) of TAA.
  • Refunds less than R100 are not refunded but carried forward to the next tax period.
  • To view the status of your refund you can use the Refund Dashboard on efiling under the ‘Returns History’ tab for the tax period in question or contact the SARS call centre.
  • Interest starts accruing from 21 business days from the date on which the refund became due, i.e. verification/audit outcome finalised.

Related: Tax Basics For Business Owners

Tax Ombud’s Report

The Tax Ombud’s report identified various mechanisms used by SARS to defer or delay the payment of refunds due:

  • SARS failing to link submitted supporting documents at a SARS branch to the main file.
  • The use of special stoppers on taxpayers’ accounts and the delay in lifting the stoppers, e.g. being required to verify banking details in person at a SARS branch. Even after the verification is done, there is still a lengthy delay in paying the refund.
  • Using the filing of new returns as an excuse to block refunds. The system blocks already verified refunds the moment a subsequent return is submitted by the taxpayer.
  • Withholding of refunds for one period while an audit/verification is in progress on another period. This is contrary to section 190 of the TAA.
  • The use of historic returns suddenly reflecting as outstanding but these have never been shown as outstanding on the Tax Clearance Certificate or the Statement of Account.
  • The raising of assessments and passing of journals to absorb credits on taxpayers’ accounts, i.e. overpayments. In doing so, SARS creates fictious tax liabilities instead of making a decision on the refund.
  • Requesting further information during the audit to delay finalisation, thus delaying the time frame from when the interest accrues.
  • No turnaround time for assessments successfully disputed.
  • Obstacles regarding diesel refunds.
  • Raising of assessments prematurely before the 21 days to submit the supporting documents
  • Refunds for periods that have been verified automatically set-off against bad debts on other periods not withstanding a request for suspension or where there is the suspension of payment. SARS may not instate any collection steps from date of submission of request for suspension of payment until 10 days after decision to not grant the request has been communicated to the taxpayer in terms of section 164 (6).

You are able to object/dispute any SARS decision not to release the refund on efiling or through your tax practitioner.

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