Tax Freedom Day 2019 Has Arrived!

Tax Freedom Day 2019 Has Arrived!

“Untold Wealth: That which does not appear on income tax returns” (Anonymous)

“Tax Freedom Day” is the first day of the year that we South Africans (as a whole) have earned enough to pay off the Tax Man and to finally start working for ourselves.

It arrived this year on 18 May. That’s five days later than in 2018, and a whole 37 days later than in 1994 when we first started measuring this – not a happy trend, nor unfortunately one likely to be reversed in future.

But it could be worse. Taxpayers in a lot of other countries are still working for government – Norwegians for example only celebrate on 29 July!

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

Expats and Employers: Plan Now For the New Expat Tax Changes

Expats and Employers: Plan Now For the New Expat Tax Changes

“An income tax form is like a laundry list – either way you lose your shirt” (Comedian Fred Allen)

This article is important to you if you are either a South African working abroad or an employer of one. If you don’t fall into either of those categories, but know someone who does, please think of passing this on.

As an employee earning foreign remuneration (salary, leave pay, bonuses, allowances, commission etc), you currently enjoy an uncapped tax exemption (on that remuneration only, not on other foreign income) provided that you work overseas –

  • For more than a total of 183 days during any 12 month period, and
  • More than 60 of those days are consecutive.

That however is set to change from 1 March 2020, when only the first R1m p.a. of your earnings will be exempt – you will pay tax on anything over that. With the Rand’s weakness showing little sign of abating, a lot of expats and their employers are going to be affected. 

Are you a “tax resident”? 

Only “tax residents” are affected, so the first thing you should establish is whether you are still a tax resident or not. That’s not always easy, so take professional advice in any doubt.

To illustrate some of the complexities involved, both physical emigration/relocation and “financial emigration” are different concepts to “tax emigration”. Moreover the Income Tax Act’s tests for tax residency are hardly a model of clarity – you are a “resident for tax purposes” if you are either an “ordinary resident” or a resident in terms of the “physical presence test” –

  1. You are, says SARS, an “ordinary resident” if South Africa is the country to which you “will naturally and as a matter of course return after [your] wanderings’, your “usual or principal residence”, or your “real home”.
  2. Even if you aren’t an “ordinary resident”, you will still be a resident under the “physical presence test” if you are physically present in South Africa for more than –
    1. “91 days in total during the year of assessment under consideration; and
    2. 91 days in total during each of the five years of assessment preceding the year of assessment under consideration; and
    3. 915 days in total during those five preceding years of assessment.”       

      Under the physical presence test however if you are outside the country for a continuous period of at least 330 days you are not regarded as a tax resident.

Should you “tax emigrate”?

If you are indeed a tax resident, don’t think of changing that status without taking full advice. “Tax emigration” and “financial emigration” are complicated processes and full of pitfalls. For example you could be entitled to foreign tax rebates or other relief on your taxable (i.e. +R1m) foreign earnings, or there may be other benefits to remaining a tax resident. So it is important to have an expert look at your specific situation and determine what is best for you overall.

The big thing is to be aware that change is coming. Some long-range planning is the only way to be certain that there are no unpleasant surprises waiting to spring out on you down the line.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

Your Website of the Month: Your Selection of Budget 2019 Tax Calculators (And a Tax Guide)

Your Website of the Month: Your Selection of Budget 2019 Tax Calculators (And a Tax Guide)

“People who complain about taxes can be divided into two classes: men and women” (Anon)

  • How long will you work for the taxman today?
    Input your salary into the 2019 Tax Clock calculator and find out how many hours you will spend today working for the taxman, and at what time precisely you will finally start working for yourself (warning – it’s not pretty!).
  • How will your income tax change?   
    Put your monthly taxable income into Fin24’s Budget 2019 Income Tax Calculator to find out.
  • How much extra will your sin taxes cost you this year? 
    Work out how much more you will be shelling out for spirits, wine, beer and cigarettes (or how much you will be saving if you don’t indulge!) with Fin24’s Budget 2019 Sin Tax Calculator.
  • Your Pocket Tax Guide “From the Horse’s Mouth”   
    Download the official SARS Budget 2019 Tax Guide from the National Treasury website here.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

Property Developers Beware: Deemed Accruals Can Seriously Disrupt Your Cash Flow

Property Developers Beware: Deemed Accruals Can Seriously Disrupt Your Cash Flow

“Never take your eyes off the cash flow because it’s the lifeblood of business” (Richard Branson)

A recent Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment has confirmed that when a property developer enters into an agreement with a buyer to transfer the property, even if the developer only actually gets paid in a subsequent tax year, the income is deemed to have accrued to the developer at that date. The developer must therefore include the full proceeds of the sale in its income tax return for the year the agreement was signed. 

This has the effect of the property developer paying tax before receiving the proceeds of the sale, putting the developer out of pocket until transfer to the purchaser takes place.

A property developer in Cape Town entered into sales agreements for 25 units. Each agreement called for a deposit of R5,000 with the balance of the money to be paid on completion of the development. Purchasers could take possession once the full sale price had been secured or within 60 days of the sale. By the end of the first year 18 purchasers had taken possession and in all 25 cases the purchase price had been fully secured.

Transfer of the properties took place in the next tax year. The developer did not include the sale proceeds in his tax return for the year of concluding the agreements but showed the proceeds in the next tax year. 

The Court upheld the decision by SARS to tax the developer in full in the first tax year. The assessment at just under R1.9m was based on taxable income of R6.8m.

Why the developer lost

Property developers assume a substantial risk when they undertake a development – they spend millions of Rand upfront and if they can’t sell the developed properties they make a considerable loss. They mitigate this risk by selling the properties upfront – usually before they commit to building. Clearly they will not get paid until the property is transferred, so they accept a deposit plus a guarantee (usually from the purchaser’s banker) for the balance of the selling price, or alternatively the buyer placing the funds in the conveyancer’s trust account.  

Once the developer is assured of selling the properties it then proceeds with the development. On this basis, banks will advance the cost of the development to the developer.

However, in terms of the law as now confirmed by the SCA, the proceeds of the sale of the properties are deemed to have accrued to the developer and are taxable in the year the agreement is signed.   

Developers need to be aware of, and plan for, the cash flow implications.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

You have Successfully Subscribed!