Almost every South African will pay some form of tax in their lifetime. Putting petrol in your car to get to work? Almost 70c of every rand spent on fuel goes towards taxes and levies. Paying for a cup of coffee? Fifteen percent of your cup will be paid over to the tax man through value-added tax (Vat). And what about the elation of seeing a gross salary figure in an offer of employment, only to be crushed by disappointment at the significantly after-tax amount?
South Africa is among the top 10 most heavily-taxed countries around the world.
It is no surprise to hear more and more people grumbling about the taxman’s slice of their pie, but what we should do instead is learn what we as ordinary taxpayers can do to reduce our tax bill in a legal manner.
One of the most effective vehicles to reduce your income tax bill is a retirement annuity (RA). RAs are, in essence, a private pension fund which you can use to save for your retirement. Contributions towards an RA are tax deductible – individuals may deduct up to 27.5% of their gross remuneration or taxable income (whichever is the higher) in respect of their total contributions to a pension, provident or retirement annuity fund. This is subject to an annual limit of R350 000 per person.
Currently, RAs are income tax, dividend tax, and capital gains tax exempt. No tax is payable on transfer from another approved pension, provident or RA fund into a RA fund.
This tax saving is best illustrated by way of an example. Smart and his twin brother, Lazy, have recently started their first jobs. They are both earning a gross income of R20 000 per month. Smart has approached a financial planner and started saving 15% of his salary towards a RA. His brother, Lazy, has decided to rather spend this portion on instalments on a brand-new car. Assuming they are both members of a medical aid, the tax payable by each of them will be determined as follows:
|Gross income||R240 000||R240 000|
|Less: RA Contributions||R36 000||R0|
|Taxable income||R204 000||R240 000|
|Tax according to tables||R36 720||R45 928|
|Less: Rebate||R14 958||R14 958|
|Less: Medical aid rebate||R3 828||R3 828|
|Tax payable||R17 934||R27 142|
|Income after tax||R222 066||R212 858|
|Average tax rate||8.79%||11.31%|
|Monthly tax payable||R1 495||R2 262|
|Monthly after-tax income||R18 506||R17 738|
The tables above show that Smart will pay less tax, while at the same time putting money away for his retirement. Lazy on the other hand gets left behind.
While a RA is by no means a silver bullet that will solve all your tax problems, the benefit of investing in one is clear. There are several considerations to be aware of when determining whether this is the most appropriate investment vehicle for each individual. These considerations include – but are not limited to – accessibility of your funds, the asset allocation of your overall portfolio and financial institutional fees.
It is important to always seek impartial financial advice from a certified financial planner before making any decisions that can impact your overall portfolio.
Johann Rossouw is a CFP at Fiscal Private Client Services