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‘Creative Industries Can Drive Economic Growth, Job Creation’ – Report

South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) Chief Research Strategist Prof Jen Snowball’s recent paper with Serge Hasidi on cultural employment in South Africa explores the role of the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) in facilitating job creation and economic growth in South Africa.

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The fast-paced change in the South African political and economic landscape – including the cabinet reshuffle and subsequent downgrading of South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to junk status – have left many questioning the economic future of the country. 

As a result now more than ever, the public and private sectors need to examine new and innovative ways to support and facilitate economic growth and employment in the country. 

The often underestimated ‘Creative and Cultural Industries’ (CCIs) may offer a route to just that job creation – and the perfect platform for innovative forms of economic growth. This is according to the South African Cultural Observatory’s (SACO) Cultural Employment Report, presented at the SACO National Conference (24 & 25 May), which shows that the CCIs could grow faster than non-cultural sectors of the economy. 

Globally, a recent CCI mapping study by EY found that 29.5 million people are employed in the CCIs worldwide, accounting for 1% of the world‘s active labour force and 3% of global GDP.

Related: 20 South African Side-Hustles You Can Start This Weekend

To gain insight into the economic potential of the CCIs in South Africa, the Cultural Observatory – the Department of Arts and Culture’s (DAC) cultural statistics research arm – recently conducted a study to examine the current state of cultural employment in the country.

Using international trends and UNESCO’s Framework for Cultural Statistics as a guideline, we established a framework from which to analyse existing data on the cultural economy.

We defined cultural occupations to include people employed as traditional cultural workers, such as writers, sculptors, and performing artists, as well as those employed in the more commercial creative industries, including, fashion, architecture, and graphic design. 

The study, which used Statistics South Africa’s (StatsSA) Labour Force Dynamics Survey which provides annual data from 2008 to 2014, found that the cultural and creative industries account for 2,93 % of employment in South Africa. 

This equates to 443 778 jobs, slightly more mining, which makes up 2.83% of employment in the country.

In addition to pinpointing current cultural employment statistics, the study found that employment in 2014 grew at a faster rate in the CCIs than in non-cultural sectors of the economy. This, we believe, has significant strategic implications for the future of South Africa’s economy and related employment opportunities. 

The Stats SA’s data set was also used to determine who the people occupying these creative roles are and how their employment experiences compare to employment in non-cultural sectors.

In terms of demographics, those employed in cultural jobs in 2014 were mostly black Africans (69.9%), Coloured (11.9%), Indian/Asian (2.2%) or white (19%), compared to non-cultural jobs, which were 88.6% black African, coloured and Indian/Asian and 11.4% white. However, the CCI job demographics were much more diverse in some domains than in others. 

Related: Latest Survey Reveals When South Africans Are Most Productive

Slightly more men are employed in cultural occupations (51.7%) than women, and nearly 40% of these men are under the age of 35. In comparison, the majority of women working in cultural and creative industries are between 35 and 49 years of age. 

The study found that those working in South Africa’s cultural occupations tend to be better educated or skilled than those working in non-cultural sectors. This means that earnings in the CCIs are also considerably higher than in non-cultural occupations – despite the fact that informal, freelance based employment accounts for more jobs than formal employment in this sector.

These higher incomes point towards the growing potential of this sector to boost economic growth. 

The report also shows that, similarly to international contexts, creative workers in South Africa tend to cluster or group together in provinces that have larger cities.

As a result, the Western Cape and Gauteng – the county’s two wealthiest provinces – currently have the highest proportion of people employed in the cultural sector.

In short, the Cultural Employment Report indicates that cultural jobs make up a bigger proportion of jobs in the South African economy than one might have initially expected. 

This is especially interesting as jobs in primary industries such as mining decline, the services sector and tertiary industry jobs – which include many cultural jobs – are going to become essential contributors to job creation in the country.

The challenge however is the volatility of cultural jobs.

Cultural occupations can be unpredictable, and have a tendency to be sensitive to economic downturns. They also have a propensity to attract short-term contracts and long working hours – making them a stressful employment option.

If the recent credit rating downgrade leads to slower economic growth in the long term, it will no doubt affect all job creation possibilities, including those of the CCIs.

However, it is important to note that, as South African and international research has shown, people working in the CCIs are good at having multiple jobs, and can adapt in tough times by diversifying their income streams – making them resilient and resourceful in times of economic strain – something we all need to learn as times get tougher. 

Also, if suggestions in the proposed Revised White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage, such as expanded economic rights and short-term unemployment insurance for cultural workers, are seriously considered, more people might be encouraged to consider the CCIs as a career option, leading to sector-wide – and arguably – national growth and employment.

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3 Stealthy Tax Hikes Payroll Managers And Employees Need To Take Note Of

By Rob Cooper, tax expert at Sage, and chairman of the Payroll Authors Group of South Africa

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“Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.” 

The adage summarises the difficult decisions government and the Finance Minister faced when balancing the country’s books, rescuing state-owned enterprises, and reviving the growth of our economy. Given the economic pressure that most taxpayers are facing, government ideally needed to achieve all of that without direct increases to personal income tax in the most recent Budget Speech.

Personal income tax has comprised at least a third of South Africa’s total tax revenue in recent tax years, despite growing unemployment. The 2019 Budget, presented in February, forecasts that personal income tax will account for nearly 39% of tax collected during the upcoming (2019/20) tax year. Given that we are in an election year and that the tax base is fragile, it’s not surprising that the Finance Minister and the National Treasury avoided direct increases to the statutory tax tables used to calculate PAYE for employees in the budget.

Nonetheless, government has made inflation work in its favour to impose some tax increases by stealth. Here are three ways government is raising more revenue without direct tax increases:

1. Bracket creep

The statutory tax tables used by payrolls and employers have not been changed for 2019/20, nor have the brackets been adjusted for inflation. This effectively amounts to an indirect tax increase that will yield a revenue saving of approximately R12.8 billion for government’s coffers.

It is not unusual for government to use ‘bracket creep’ to effectively raise more revenue. But unlike previous tax years, even low- and middle-income earners are not getting much relief. Rebates and the tax threshold are being increased by small amounts to allow some relief, but many people this year will feel the pain as inflationary salary increases push them into a higher tax bracket.

2. Medical aid credit not adjusted for inflation 

As proposed in the 2018 Budget, the Finance Minister did not apply an inflationary increase to the Medical Tax Credit, which allowed him to raise an extra R1 billion in revenue for the year. Surprisingly, these funds will be allocated to general tax revenue rather than ring-fenced for healthcare. In previous tax years, revenue generated from below-inflation increases on medical scheme credits was used to fund National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot projects.

There is still no clarity on how the NHI is going to be funded except for a general statement that the funding model is a problem for the National Treasury to solve, and that the principles of cross-subsidisation will apply. One wonders if any real progress will be made soon, given the fiscal constraints government faces.

3. Business travel deduction left untouched

The Budget leaves the per-kilometre cost rates used to determine tax deductions for business travel untouched. By not increasing travel rates to account for inflation, government effectively increases income tax collection at the cost of the taxpayer. This will be a blow for people who need to claim from their employers for business travel in their personal vehicles. This change has slipped through largely unnoticed and the budget does not provide numbers for the expected increase in tax revenue.

Closing words

Amid political turmoil and uncertainty, the Finance Minister presented a balanced budget for 2019/20 that offers hope for the future along with some tough love. With government taking steps to accelerate economic growth and improve revenue collection, we should hopefully see a steady improvement in government finances, which will translate into less pressure on the taxpayer in future years.

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SMEs: Staying On The Right Side Of The Taxman

Remaining SARS compliant can be a constant challenge for small- to medium-enterprises (SMEs), especially when they are trying to focus on growing their businesses and streamlining their operations.

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EasyBiz Managing Director, Gary Epstein, says submitting taxes can be a seamless process that does not have to take up more time than is necessary. “If business owners understand what is required of them and they put a few processes into place to deal with their tax submissions properly, their lives will be so much easier.”

What are the top three considerations for SMEs when submitting tax returns?

“Firstly,” says Epstein, “SARS returns must be accurate and submitted in terms of the relevant Act. Secondly, returns should be submitted and paid on time to avoid unnecessary penalties and interest, and thirdly, business owners must follow up on queries issued by SARS. “Do not ignore these queries, act on them as soon as possible”.

What are the major SARS submission deadlines for SMEs?

Epstein points out that small business owners need to adhere to various tax deadlines, each with their own particular dates for submission. “It is important that business owners diarise the dates (and set advance reminders for themselves) and/or enlist the services of an accountant or financial adviser to help them keep abreast of requirements.”

Value-added tax (VAT)

VAT payments need to be submitted in the VAT period allocated to the business, according to various categories and ending on the last day of a calendar month. This may mean making payments once a month, once every two months, once every six months or annually, depending on the category.

Provisional taxes

Provisional tax should be submitted at the end of August (first provisional) and at the end of February (second provisional) – for February year-end companies.

Employee taxes

In addition to submitting an annual reconciliation (EMP501) for the period 1 March to end of February for Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE), Skills Development Levy (SDL) and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), employee tax, in the form of an EMP201 return, needs to be submitted by the seventh of every month.

When can SMEs get extensions and is it worth it?

Epstein says SMEs can apply for various extensions, but these are subject to the Income Tax Act and Tax Administration Act.

“It is best for SMEs to consult their tax professionals to get advice regarding extensions for their businesses.”

What is SARS not flexible about?

SARS is not flexible when it comes to late returns and late payments.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is for SME owners to ensure their tax returns are submitted on time. In this way, they will avoid the inconvenience and expense of additional fines and interest,” notes Epstein.

What skills do SMEs need in their organisations to be able to submit to SARS efficiently?

Business owners often don’t have the time or expertise to deal with tax submissions throughout the year. If the business cannot afford to employ a full-time accountant or financial services expert, it would do well to outsource its tax requirements to a registered tax practitioner.

“I would recommend that even if they are not submitting the tax returns themselves, business owners should have a broad understanding of the tax regulations and what is expected of them. There is a lot of helpful information on the various Acts and tax requirements on SARS’ website,” says Epstein.

How does the right software help SMEs remain SARS compliant?

SME’s (and their accountants’) jobs can be made easier by using reliable accounting software to calculate accurate VAT reports. These reports are only as accurate as the data entered into them, which means care needs to be taken when inputting data into the accounting programme. Epstein says a good accounting software package must be reliable, easy to use and functional.

“SMEs need to check that the software has thorough reporting capabilities and can interface with other software solutions. Of course, it is also important to find out whether the software is locally supported by the vendor or not.”

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4 Dangers Of Business Under-insurance

A common short-term insurance peril that many SMEs face when submitting a claim following an insured event is the risk of being underinsured.

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Malesela Maupa, Head of Products and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers says, many small business owners mistakenly believe that by merely having a short-term insurance policy in place they are adequately protected against unforeseen events.

“This is technically correct provided that the business is covered for the full replacement value of the items insured. However, in circumstances where the sum insured does not cover the full replacement value or material loss of the item insured, the business is underinsured,” explains Maupa, as he unpacks the dangers of business underinsurance:

1. Financial loss

The most common risk is financial loss on the part of the business. If the business is underinsured or the indemnity period understated, the short-term insurance policy will only pay out the sum insured for the stated indemnity period as stated in the schedule, with the business owner having to provide for the shortfall. This often leads to cash flow challenges, impacting profit margins or rendering it difficult for the business to recover following the financial loss.

2. Reputational damage

Should an underinsured business not have sufficient funds to replace a key business activity or critical component following a loss, this may impact its ability to fulfil its contractual obligations, leading to a loss of business or market share, and irreparable reputational damage in the worst-case scenario.

3. Legal action

A small business also faces the risk of customers or clients taking legal action against it, should it fail to deliver on goods and services following a loss or be unable to honour its financial commitments that they committed to prior to the loss.

4. Survival of the business

A catastrophic event such as fire, which could result in the loss of stock or company equipment and documentation, could threaten the survival of a small business that is not yet fully established, if the business assets are not adequately insured.

Working with an experienced short-term insurance broker or insurer is essential when taking up short-term insurance to ensure that business contents are covered for their full replacement value.

Furthermore, depending on the nature of the business or item insured, the policy should be reviewed on a regular basis to avoid underinsurance as the value of items often change overtime due to fluctuations in economic activity. Where it’s necessary, evaluation certificates need to be kept up to date.

“Lastly, SMEs should ensure that the sum insured does not exceed the replacement value, which would lead to over insurance. Should a business submit a claim following a loss, the insurer would only pay out the replacement value, regardless of the higher sum insured,” concludes Maupa.

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