Ten tips for reporters on understanding tax and the Budget

There are three certainties: death, taxes and the impenetrability of much writing about tax. Tax stories tend to be complex, abstract, written by experts and concerned with finer points of tax management.

However, the presentation of any statutory Budget, and especially the National one, is always a good time for journalists to look at tax, and an opportunity to produce interesting and important stories. After all, tax is the biggest and most important source of government revenue, and often a source of personal dissatisfaction and resentment, not to say resistance. Tax rises and new taxes hit individuals where it hurts most.

Because the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement reveals government spending plans for three years ahead, and is unveiled some months before the Finance Minister gets up in Parliament to give his or her Budget speech, the spending side of the Budget holds few surprises.

Most of what is brand new in the Budget relates to revenue, specifically tax. Government gives comprehensive information on tax both in the Budget Review, and recently in a separate publication, as well as on the SARS website.


Ten tips for reporters on understanding tax and the budget