Here are the taxes you probably didn’t know you were paying in South Africa

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has published its tax statistics for 2021, providing a breakdown of revenue collections in South Africa right now.

While corporate and income taxes are well documented, the report also provides an overview of some of the ‘under the radar’ taxes South Africans are paying for right now.


Tyre levy

The Tyre levy was implemented on 1 October 2016 at a rate of R2.30/kg due to the disposal of tyres that are littering the environment.

New pneumatic tyres are subject to the payment of the tyre levy (an environmental levy) if used in South Africa, which is payable by manufacturers in South Africa. The levy is calculated on the nett mass of the tyre.


Plastic bag levy 

The Plastic bag levy was introduced in June 2004, at a rate of 3 cents a bag on some types of plastic shopping bags, with the aim of reducing littering and encouraging plastic bag reuse.

The levy was increased to 4 cents a bag from 1 April 2009, 6 cents a bag from 1 April 2013, 8 cents a bag from 1 April 2016, 12 cents a bag from 1 April 2018 and further increased to 25 cents a bag from 1 April 2020.


Incandescent light bulb levy

The Incandescent light bulb levy was introduced on 1 November 2009 at a rate of R3 per bulb, to promote energy efficiency and reduce electricity demand by encouraging the use of energy-saving light bulbs.

Energy-saving light bulbs last longer and require less electricity. The use of these light bulbs thus helps reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions.

The levy increased to R4 a bulb from 1 April 2013, R6 a bulb from 1 April 2016, R8 a bulb from 1 April 2018, and a further R10 a bulb from 1 April 2020.


CO2 tax on motor vehicle emissions

A CO2 tax on motor vehicle emissions was introduced in September 2010 for passenger vehicles and in March 2011 for double-cab vehicles.

The main objective of this tax is to encourage owners of motor vehicles in South Africa to become more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

From 1 April 2020, the threshold was adjusted from 120 gCO2/km to 95 gCO2/km for passenger cars and the emissions tax rates increased to R120 per gCO2/km for passenger cars and R160 gCO2/km for double cabs.


‘Sugar tax’ 

The Health Promotion Levy was implemented on 1 April 2018. It is a levy imposed on sugary beverages in support of the Department of Health’s deliverables to decrease diabetes, obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases in South Africa.

The Health Promotion Levy applies to beverages with more than 4 grams of sugar content per 100ml. The levy is payable by manufacturers thereof in the Republic of South Africa (RSA), as a domestic consumption tax, and is therefore not payable on sugary beverages that are exported or processed in the manufacture of other dutiable goods.

It is payable on sugary beverages manufactured in or imported into South Africa.


Carbon Tax

The Carbon Tax (CBT) is a new tax in response to climate change, which is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a sustainable, cost-effective and affordable manner.

Carbon Tax gives effect to the polluter-pays-principle and helps to ensure that firms and consumers take the negative adverse costs (externalities) of climate change into account in their future production, consumption and investment decisions.

The first phase has a carbon tax rate of R120 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. This rate will increase annually by inflation plus 2 per cent until 2022, and annually by inflation thereafter.

Significant industry-specific tax-free emissions allowances ranging from 60% to 95% will result in a modest nett carbon tax rate ranging from R6 to R48 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions to provide current emitters time to transition their operations to cleaner technologies through investments in energy efficiency, renewables, and other low-carbon measures.


Read: South Africa has published updated tax ‘rules’ – what you should know

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