Value-added tax on the supply of student accommodation

For some time now there has been a shortage of accommodation for tertiary students in South Africa. Developers have seen the gap in the market and have started building apartment buildings to provide housing to students. The typical arrangement works as follows: The owner of the building rents individual apartments to the students for a period of 10 months a year. The apartments come with beds and tables. There is a communal kitchen, a laundry facility, and a lounge area with a TV and Wi-Fi. Sometimes the owners let the buildings to tertiary institutions who, in turn, let the apartments to the students.

Cars, taxable supplies and input VAT – what says the law?

In our current day and age where convenience is key, it is common for businesses to deliver purchased goods to their clients. For such businesses, especially those who specialise in providing delivery and logistical services, it is important to note the applicable VAT considerations when purchasing a vehicle. In RTCC v Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (VAT 1345) [2016] ZATC 5 (28 July 2016), the Tax Court had to determine whether input tax could be claimed by the taxpayer, a close corporation which carried on business in the courier industry, on the purchase of a vehicle that it used to make taxable supplies.

When debt and creativity meet – a recent Tax Court decision

In the current tough economic times, it is common for companies to consider alternative funding arrangements to fund their activities, which minimise their cash flow obligations to third parties in the short term, while also ensuring that they comply with the relevant tax legislation and utilise it to their advantage. One option to consider in this regard, is the creation of a loan account by a debtor in favour of a creditor. In CLDC v The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (VAT1247) [2016] ZATC 6 (5 September 2016), handed down by the Tax Court on 5 September 2016, the court had to deal with this issue and specifically the consequences of s22(3) of the Value-Added Tax Act. No 89 of 1991 (VAT Act).

Value-added tax: SARS takes away on take-away

Author: Ben Strauss. Recently the Cape Tax Court handed down an important judgment about value-added tax (VAT). The taxpayer (D) was a registered VAT vendor. It operated a foods delivery business. D contracted with food outlets and restaurants to advertise their menus in booklets which D had printed and delivered to households. Customers who wished to place orders for food phoned an operator at D’s premises who took the orders. D’s staff would then pass the details of the order to the relevant food outlet and despatch a driver to collect and pay for the food that had been ordered. The driver then delivered the food to the customer. D’s branding was on the drivers’ uniforms.

The VAT implications of interest-free credit

It is the long-standing practice of traders and service providers to grant customers extended payment terms for the goods or services they supply as a means to enhance turnover. Where the credit provided is interest-free, the question that arises is whether the provision of such credit impacts on the entitlement of the supplier to claim input tax for value added tax (“VAT”) purposes. 

Value Added Tax on private equity transactions

Author: Seelan Moonsamy (Tax Manager at ENSafrica). The judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal (“SCA”), which established certain guidelines and principles regarding the claiming of input tax for value added tax (“VAT”) purposes in the Commissioner for South African Revenue Services v De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd (503/11) (1 June 2012) case may have far-reaching consequences for the private equity and venture capital industry.

VAT – Consequences of non-registration for VAT

The Value Added Tax Act 89 of 1991 (the VAT Act) requires VAT to be levied by a vendor on the supply of goods or services in the course or furtherance of an enterprise carried on by the vendor. A vendor is any person who is or is required to be registered in terms of the VAT Act. The fact that a vendor includes any person that is required to be registered makes it clear that a person’s liability for VAT is not dependent on whether the person is in fact registered as a vendor but rather whether the person is required to be registered as a vendor. The VAT Act requires registration as a vendor on either a prospective or retrospective basis. On a prospective basis, a person would be required to register as a vendor on the first day of the month in which the total value of … Continue reading

Tax Administration – Onus of proof for understatement penalty

As a basic principle, under section 102(1) of the Tax Administration Act 28 of 2011 (the TAA), the onus of proof that an amount is not taxable or that an amount is deductible, rests on the taxpayer, whereas under section 102(2) of the TAA, the onus of proof pertaining to the facts upon which an understatement penalty is imposed, is upon the South African Revenue Service (SARS). Too often, upon the conclusion of investigations or reviews, SARS threatens exorbitant understatement penalties for seemingly innocuous and easily resolvable queries. A good example is the classic turnover/expenditure reconciliation process which could produce, in certain instances, horrendous results for a taxpayer where the calculations are devoid of commercial logic.

Decision on the VAT treatment of the supply of student accommodation

An interesting judgment was recently delivered in the High Court (Gauteng Division, Pretoria) in the matter of Respublica (Pty) Ltd v Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service (as yet unreported). The matter concerned the value-added tax (VAT) treatment of the lease of a building to a university for purposes of student accommodation. Facts Respublica (Pty) Ltd (Vendor) owned an immovable property which it leased to the Tshwane University of Technology (University).

Value Added Tax – VAT on Residential property

Historically, it was smaller investors who bought and let residential property. However, more recently, even listed Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are building, buying and letting large portfolios of residential property. No doubt the investors are looking to satisfy the demand for residential property, and to realise better yields than may be achieved in commercial property. The value-added tax (VAT) rules on the building, buying, letting and selling of residential properties are not simple. It is worthwhile recapping some of the general principles that apply.