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How to avoid paying tax as a small business in South Africa

Taxes? There’s no running away from it! Oh no wait, not only will it catch up with you but the new law says you are liable to jail time! But of course, there are legal ways to reduce taxes. Read on…

Firstly, let’s understand the difference; when you conceal (hide) income or information from tax authorities, it is called Tax Evasion and it’s illegal. Legally reducing your taxable income is called Tax Avoidance.

All business owners have asked themselves this question at some point, “ how can I reduce my taxes?”, if not having to pay tax at all. Look, not registering your business is not a way to run away from paying tax, you are running your business as a sole proprietor and still have to pay taxes, if not more. We’ve covered this before, refer to this blog: https://accasesolutions.co.za/2021/03/16/can-sars-tax-you-even-if-your-business-is-not-registered/

Deliberately understating sales or overstating expenses is also tax evasion so that’s not a strategy. Tax evasion is considered a punishable criminal offence and can have the consequence of penalties. A good tax avoidance strategy is if you use different ways to pay lower rates when it comes to taxes without breaking the law. 

Two (2) guaranteed strategies to legally avoid paying tax: 

1️⃣ Hire young job seekers

When you hire youth (18-35), you get ETI(employment tax incentives) for the first 24 months of the person’s employment (subject to terms).

These incentives you can apply towards PAYE that the company has to pay. For example if your total PAYE payable for the month is R3500 (for every employee in the company), but due to that one young person you hired, say you get ETI worth R1000 every month (this figure differs based on terms, as mentioned above. Then the company will only pay PAYE of 2500 instead of 3500).

2️⃣ Donate to a SARS registered charity 

According to SARS, donation does not have to take the form of money – it can include a physical asset or something that has a deemed value. Donations tax is calculated at a flat rate of 20% on the value of the donation up to R30 million, and at a rate of 25% on donations over and above R30 million. However, Sars makes provision for a donations tax threshold of R100 000 below which no donations tax is payable. Meaning you can make multiple donations throughout the year on a tax-free basis as long as the cumulative total does not exceed the R100 000 threshold.

Although passing your personal expenses through business has very limited personal advantage (since there’s not much you can buy), but you can’t buy what doesn’t make sense to your business. But you may also take advantage of this. For instance; if you are in a type of business where you use your phone to create content, you can buy the latest iPhone 12 and register it through your business. It makes sense because you do make use of a cellphone to deliver your service at best. 

Some key components to remember when planning and avoiding TAX:

❇️Timing 

❇️Gross income

❇️Income or capital 

❇️Deductions 

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