New Public Notice published in respect of mandatory documentation required for transfer pricing transactions

Section 29(1)(b) of the Tax Administration Act, No 28 of 2011 (TAA) provides that a person must keep records, books of account or documents that are specifically required by the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) by public notice. On 28 October 2016, the long-awaited final public notice (Public Notice) regarding the record keeping requirements pertaining to transfer pricing transactions was published under the powers afforded to SARS in s29(1)(b) of the TAA.

Under the radar: Today one tax rate, tomorrow another?

Author: Louis Botha and Heinrich Louw. Since the first version of the Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, 2016 (First Draft TLAB) and the Explanatory Memorandum thereto (Memorandum) were released on 8 July 2016, the proposed amendments applicable to trusts and employee share schemes received most of the attention. However, another proposed amendment with potentially far-reaching consequences that has received little attention since the release of the First Draft TLAB is one which could lead to a taxpayer paying tax at one rate today and another rate tomorrow, as and when the Minister of Finance (Minister) says so.

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.

Tax consequences of the part waiver of a loan and the reduction of the interest rate

Authors: Heinrich Louw, Gigi Nyanin and Mark Morgan. On 10 October 2016, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) issued binding private ruling 252 (Ruling) which determines the donations tax and capital gains tax (CGT) consequences of the waiver of a portion of a loan and the reduction of interest on the remaining balance of the loan to 0%. By way of background, debt relief in South Africa has become somewhat of a norm due to the current stressed economic climate. One of the most common means of debt relief by creditors has been the waiver of the whole or part of a debt. For the years of assessment commencing before 1 January 2013, the reduction of debt was subject to income tax, donations tax and/or CGT, which had the result of effectively undermining the economic benefit of the debt relief.

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).

When is an error a bona fide inadvertent error?

Authors:  Louis Botha, Heinrich Louw and Mark Morgan. On 4 November 2016 judgment was handed down by the Tax Court of South Africa (held in Cape Town) in the matter of ABC Holdings (Pty) Ltd v The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service, Case number ITI13772. In this case the court had to consider whether the taxpayer, ABC Holdings (Pty) Ltd, was entitled to claim a deductible allowance of enhancement income of R9,354,458.00 received in terms of a contract for future expenditure in terms of s24C of the Income Tax Act, No 58 of 1962 (Act) for its 2011 year of assessment. The other issue that arose in this case and which is the focus of this article, was whether the South African Revenue Service (SARS) was correct to levy an understatement penalty in the circumstances.

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.

No “halfway-house” for Government Grants

Author: Esther van Schalkwyk, Senior Tax Consultant at BDO SA. In terms of a proposed amendment contained in the Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill of 2016 (‘Draft TLAB’), the taxation of government grants will likely change. National Treasury proposed a special inclusion in taxpayers’ “gross income” of “any amount received by or accrued to a person by way of a government grant as contemplated in section 12P”.

The Medium Term Budget Speech 2016

Author: Ferdie Schneider, Head of Tax at BDO South Africa  Amidst protests at Parliament, the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan, delivered his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on 26 October 2016 at 14:00. The MTBPS again reported to Parliament and the general public on the planned use of taxpayer funds; fiscal and financial measures; and public finance management. SA’s economic growth was forecasted at 0.9% in the February 2016 Budget, but the MTBPS has revised this downward to just 0.5% for 2016. Forecasts have it that economic growth will increase to 1.7% in 2017, which seems to be a very optimistic forecast, but if believed to be found credible could boost investor confidence. This is on the back of a slowdown in global growth in 2016 which affects investment and trade in most economies, especially those of developing countries.