A taxpayer’s unfortunate experience with SARS

Author: Heinrich Louw. On 21 October 2016 judgment was handed down by the High Court (Gauteng Division, Pretoria) in the matter of BMW South Africa (Pty) Ltd v The Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (as yet unreported). Briefly, the applicant (Applicant) was a vendor for purposes of Value-added Tax (VAT). The respondent, being the South African Revenue Service (SARS), had made a finding that the Applicant did not pay certain amounts of VAT due in respect of the October 2011 to February 2012 VAT periods.

The price is not right: Advertising and the VAT Act

Author: Louis Botha. An efficient advertising campaign can often be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful business venture. When advertising the price of a product, however, businesses must be mindful of the provisions of the Value-Added Tax Act 89 of 1991 (VAT Act). This issue recently came up in the matter of Security Outfitters Safety Gear/L Munian/2016-4420F, a ruling handed down by the Directorate of the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA Directorate) on 18 November 2016 (Ruling).

Section 73 of the VAT Act: The serious consequences of unlawful tax avoidance

When disputing a tax debt, especially one involving the complex issue of unlawful tax avoidance, taxpayers should always exercise great caution. This sentiment is echoed by the recent judgment in Dale v Aeronastic Properties Ltd (Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service and Others Intervening) (9297/2016) [2016] ZAWCHC 160 (25 October 2016). Although the court in this case was concerned with whether an order to place the respondent taxpayer, Aeronastic Properties Ltd (Aeronastic), under business rescue, its precarious financial situation was caused largely by an expensive tax debt. In the course of its judgment, the court made reference to the taxpayer’s dispute with the South African Revenue Service (SARS), which dispute is the subject of this article.

Sold to the highest bidder…unless you didn’t pay VAT

Before buying anything, a purchaser should always be aware of all its obligations. This is one of the lessons to draw from the decision in Sheriff of the High Court, Piketberg and another v Lourens; In re: Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd v Trustees for the time being of the Eila Trust and others [2016] 4 All SA 239 (WCC). In this case the court had to decide, among other things, whether the sale of a property in execution could be set aside, where the purchaser had not met his obligations in terms of the Value-Added Tax Act, No 89 of 1991 (VAT Act), read with the conditions of sale.

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.