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Review of Disability List

Review of Disability List

Tshwane, 1 June 2021 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has noted the public comments following the publication of the draft “List of Qualifying Physical Impairment or Disability Expenditure” (the Disability List) for public comment.

Many of these comments appear to be based on a misunderstanding of the intent of the proposed amendments to the list, which were triggered by submissions from stakeholders seeking to address practical issues that arise from the current Disability List.

In order to permit more time to engage with stakeholders, explain the intent behind the changes and understand the concerns raised, the decision has been taken to withdraw the draft Disability List. A further draft Disability List may be published once this process has concluded.

The current Disability List, which was published in 2020 for the 2021 tax year onward, will remain in force until replaced. This version is available on the SARS website.

Note for editors:

The Disability List was introduced in 2009 by way of a legislative amendment to the Income Tax Act, 1962, which required the Commissioner to prescribe a list of qualifying physical impairment or disability expenditure. The amendment was introduced to increase clarity and certainty for both SARS and taxpayers in respect of the type of qualifying disability expenses that would be allowed for tax purposes.

The first Disability List came into effect for the 2010 tax year onward and was based on the amended legislative requirements that the expenditure must be ”necessarily incurred, and paid by the person in consequence of any physical impairment or disability”. In drafting the list, SARS consulted widely with various organisations representing persons with disabilities and professional bodies, followed by a period for comment by the public at large.

The Disability List was updated for the 2013 tax year onward, and thereafter for the 2021 tax year onward, following a similar consultation process.

The guiding principle for SARS has always been to identify those additional expenses a person with a disability would incur, without which the person would not be able to perform the activities of daily living.

With regard to school fees, the qualifying expense is currently the difference between the fees paid to a private special needs school and closest fee-paying private school, or the difference between the fees paid to a public special needs school and closest fee-paying public school.

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