Tax Statistics for 2016

Joint Media Release by the National Treasury and the South African Revenue Service

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PRETORIA, 29 November 2016 – SARS and National Treasury are proud to unveil the 9th annual edition of the Tax Statistics, which we have jointly published since 2008. The publication makes accessible tax administration data from the full universe of SARS registered taxpayers and vendors to a wide range of stakeholders in research, media and the wider public. The World Bank, the OECD and stakeholders from government, including Statistics South Africa and the South African Reserve Bank, continue to make use of the publication. The Davis Tax Committee, in its evaluation of South Africa’s tax system, made extensive use of previous published editions of the Tax Statistics.

The 2016 release of the 9th edition of the Tax Statistics complements the release of the first edition of the Revenue Statistics in Africa in April 2016 and the African Tax Outlook in June 2016.  Revenue Statistics in Africa is a joint project between the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), the African Union Commission, and the OECD. The African Tax Outlook is ATAF’s flagship publication and the inaugural edition comprises data from 15 African tax administrations. Both publications drew heavily on the Tax Statistics publication and SARS played a vital role in the compilation and strengthening of the continental publications. With these ground breaking publications the African continent has taken a significant step in joining other regions of the world in publishing data from African tax administrations which provide insights into the tax systems of individual countries, as well as the different regional blocs and continent at large.

The 2016 Tax Statistics provides an overview of tax revenue collection and tax return information for the 2011/12 to 2015/16 fiscal years, and the 2012 to 2015 tax years respectively. The Tax Statistics presents comprehensive tax revenue data to complement and contextualise economic and demographic data provided by other statistical agencies. The tax statistics also provide valuable insights into socio-economic trends.

Administrative records generally cover an entire population, in contrast to a sample survey. This means that statistics derived from administrative records provide more nuanced insights, especially for sub-components of the population and for small geographical areas.

Some highlights in this publication include —
  • Tax revenue collection for 2015/16 amounted to R1 070.0 billion (R1.07 trillion), growing by R83.7 billion (8.5%) relative to 2014/15. The Tax-to-GDP ratio increased from 25.5% in 2014/15 to 26.2% in 2015/16, slightly below the peak of 26.4% achieved in 2007/08. Revenue growth was mainly supported by personal income tax (PIT), which grew by R35.4 billion (10%). The cost of revenue collection ratio decreased from 0.97% in 2014/15 to 0.96%, well within the international benchmark of 1%.

  • Of the 6 662 490 individual taxpayers expected to submit returns for the 2014/15 tax year, 4 788 334 (71.9%) have been assessed. In ensuing years, the level of assessment for any given tax year increases as more outstanding returns are submitted and processed.

  • A demographic and geographic analysis of assessments at the time of the release of this publication shows:
    • 1 920 874 (40.1%) assessed taxpayers were registered in Gauteng;
    • 607 092 assessed taxpayers lived in the Johannesburg Metro and were taxed on an average taxable income of R404 430;
    • 1 292 334 (27.0%) assessed taxpayers were aged 35 to 44; and
    • 2 667 054 (55.7%) assessed taxpayers were male.

  • VAT remained the second largest contributor to total tax revenue for 2015/16, totaling R281.1 billion (26.3% of total tax revenues).  Net VAT collections grew by 7.6% compared to the previous year. Aggregate growth in net VAT revenue was driven by an increase of 10.4% in import VAT payments as domestic VAT payments only increased by 3.7% (due to subdued consumption expenditure by households). The main sectors that contributed to domestic VAT growth were financial intermediation, insurance, real-estate & business services; community social & personal services; and construction.

  • At 18.1% of total tax revenues, Company Income Tax (CIT) was the third largest contributor to total tax revenue collected in 2015/16. Its contribution has decreased significantly, compared to a peak of 26.7% achieved in 2008/09. About 25% of the 702 395 companies assessed for the 2015 tax year had positive taxable income. A further 47% had taxable income equal to zero, while the remaining 28% reported an assessed loss. Of the 702 395 companies assessed, 126 400 were assessed as Small Business Corporations (SBCs), which are taxed according to the graduated income tax schedule instead of the corporate income tax rate of 28%.

  • Import VAT and Customs Duties, South Africa’s two biggest trade-related taxes, jointly contributed R197 billion (18.4%) to total tax revenue collected in 2015/16. This is in line with contributions in the years following the global financial crisis, with the exception of a 19.5% peak in 2013/14. A total of 289 922 importers were on the register for 2015/16. Both import taxes showed strong double-digit percentage growth rates from the prior year, driven mainly by gains from exchange rate weakening combined with steady growth in the importation of capital equipment.
The publication is set out as follows:
  • Chapter 1: Revenue Collections provides a summary of aggregate tax revenue collection trends from 2011/12 to 2015/16.

  • Chapter 2: Personal Income Tax (PIT) gives an overview of assessed personal income tax revenues of registered individual taxpayers. It also provides information about taxable income by income group, age, gender, municipality of residence and source of income, as well as fringe benefits, allowances and deductions.

  • Chapter 3: Company Income Tax (CIT) gives an overview of company income tax revenues. Information about taxable income by income group, sector and type of business entity as declared in the tax returns is also provided.

  • Chapter 4: Value-Added Tax (VAT) provides a breakdown of VAT liabilities, receipts and refunds by sector and payment category, as well as an overview of data on input and output VAT as derived from VAT returns submitted by vendors.

  • Chapter 5: Import VAT and Customs duties provides information about the customs value of imported goods by product type, according to the Harmonised System (HS) at section level, as well as import VAT, customs duty and total import tax on imported goods. The Harmonised System (HS) is a multipurpose international product nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO).

  • Chapter 6: Other Taxes and Collections provide information about taxes such as capital gains tax (CGT), transfer duty, mineral and petroleum resources royalty (MPRR), Southern African Customs Union (SACU) payments and diesel refunds.

  • The Glossary and Index contain definitions of terms and abbreviations, as well as a list of all tables and figures in the publication.
The 2016 Tax Statistics documents are available on the Tax Statistics webpage.

Both SARS and National Treasury welcome public comments and suggestions to enhance the publication’s utility in policy evaluation and developing new insights into South Africa’s social and economic context. These can be provided via e-mail to [email protected].