Category Economy
SUB CATEGORIES General |  Budget 2017 |  Budget 2018 |  Budget 2019 |  Budget 2020 |  Budget 2021 | 

Budget speech tax proposal summary

25 February 2021 Jenny Gordon, Head: Technical Advice, Investments, Product and Enablement at Alexander Forbes
Jenny Gordon, Head: Technical Advice, Investments, Product and Enablement at Alexander Forbes

Jenny Gordon, Head: Technical Advice, Investments, Product and Enablement at Alexander Forbes

The National Budget speech was delivered in parliament on 24 February 2021 by the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni.

The backdrop to this year’s Budget was the ravages to lives, personal livelihoods, businesses and the economy caused by Covid-19. The challenges of last year’s Budget are amplified by the pandemic and budgetary consequences which could not have been contemplated last year this time. Vaccines and their rollout across the country, looms highest on the priority list. Government has set aside R10 Billion as well as a contingency reserve of R 5 Billion to R12 billion to make provision for further purchases of vaccines and other emergencies. This is vital for the health of our people and our economy.

It is a huge concern that our borrowing requirement will remain well above R500 billion in each year of the medium term and that gross loan debt will increase from R3.95 trillion in the current fiscal year to R5.2 trillion in 2023/24.

Treasury expect to collect R1.21 trillion in taxes during 2020/21, which is about R213 billion less than the 2020 Budget expectations. This is the largest tax shortfall on record.
In 2021/22 government expects to collect R1.37 trillion, provided their underlying assumptions on the performance of the economy and tax base hold.

Against this background we were pleased to see that the Minister did not increase personal taxes or allow for fiscal drag to increase collections. Without government adjustment to the tables and rebates, fiscal drag causes income to move into higher tax brackets. Instead the Minister increased the tax tables and rebates by five percent which was welcome relief under trying circumstances. The Budget Review noted that new tax increases at this time could harm the economy’s ability to recover. Additional revenue from indirect taxes will be offset by personal income tax relief.

The Minister also announced that corporate income tax rate will be lowered to 27 per cent for companies with years of assessment commencing on or after 1 April 2022. This will be done alongside a broadening of the corporate income tax base by limiting interest deductions and assessed losses. Government will give consideration to further rate decreases to make our tax system more attractive in a revenue-neutral manner. The insights of the Davis Tax Committee will be leveraged as they undertake this reform.

Although there were many tax proposals, this publication will be limited to those which are of concern to financial advisers.

Budget 2020 will be remembered for the following tax proposals

  • The main tax proposals for 2021/22 include above-inflation increase of 5 percent in personal tax brackets and rebates
  • An inflation-linked general fuel levy increase of 15c/litre for petrol and
    diesel, and an above-inflation increase of 11c/litre in the Road Accident
    Fund levy.
  • An 8 per cent increase in excise duties on tobacco and alcohol products.
  • The reduction in the corporate tax rate from 28% to 27% from 1 April 2021 with a limitation on tax deductions and assessed losses.
  • Compared with the 2020 Budget estimate, the projected revenue shortfall for 2020/21 is R213.2 billion.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on tax revenue collection.
  • Large predicted shortfalls in revenue for 2020/21 and over the next three years,
  • Gross tax revenue for 2020/21 is now expected to be 10.6 per cent lower than in the previous fiscal year and R 213.2 billion lower than projected in the 2020 Budget due to the pandemic.
  • COVID-19 has led to many business closures and job losses. To support households, businesses and the economy government will not introduce measures to increase tax revenue in the 2021 Budget, and previously announced increases over the next three years will be withdrawn.
  • Expectations of tax base growth have deteriorated significantly since the 2020 Budget
  • Personal income tax collection has been affected by rising job losses and lower earnings for those who are employed. Corporate income tax collections have been contracting since 2018/19 and will continue to fall this year. Specific excise duties are expected to fall by nearly 50 per cent as a result of restrictions on trading activity and tax deferrals.
  • The tax-to-GDP ratio now stands at 24.6 per cent.
  • The minimum value for paid-up retirement annuities has not been adjusted since 2007/08. This value will increase from R7 000 to R15 000 from 1 March 2021
  • The Primary rebate is increased to R 15 714 (from R14 958) the Secondary rebate is increased to R 8 613 (from R8 199); and the Tertiary rebate is increased (from R2 736) to R2 871.This is an increase of just over 5.per cent, providing above inflation relief.
  • The tax free threshold for personal income taxes is increased to R87 300 (from R 83 100) for persons under age 65; to R135 150 (from R128 650)  for persons age 65 to 74; and to R 151 100 (from R143 850) for persons age 75 and over.
  • The adjustment will provide R 2.2 billion in tax relief.
  • Government proposes an inflationary increase in the value of medical tax credits in 2021/22 from R 319 per month to R 332 for the first two beneficiaries and from R 215 per month to R 224 for the remaining beneficiaries.
  • Overall increase in the fuel levy by 27 cents a litre.

A. Personal income tax

The personal income tax brackets and the primary, secondary and tertiary rebates will be increased by 5 per cent for 2021/22, which is above expected inflation rate
This provides relief to households by ensuring that inflation does not automatically increase the individual tax burden. This adjustment will reduce tax revenue by R2.2 billion. Most of the relief benefits lower- and middle-income households. If the tax tables were not adjusted, this would have raised R11.2 billion

1. Personal tax tables for individuals and special trusts

The table below reflects the proposed personal tax tables for individuals and special trusts:

Income Tax year 2021/2022

Taxable income (R’s)

Rates of tax

R0 - R 216 200 (from R205 900)

18% of each R1

R 216 200  - R 337 800

R 38 916 + 26% of the amount above R 216 200

R 337 800 – R 467 500

R 70 532 + 31% of the amount above R 337 800

R467 501 - R613 600

R110 739 + 36% of the amount above R467 500

R613 601 - R782 200

R163 335 + 39% of the amount above R613 600


R782 201 - R1 656 600

R229 089 + 41% of the amount

above R782 200


R1 656 600 and above

( from R1 5 77 300)

R587 593 + 45% of the amount

above R1 656 600



2. Tax Rebates

The table below reflects the proposed tax rebates for individuals:

Tax rebates


2020/21 tax year

2021/22 tax year

Primary rebate                       

R14 958

R 15 714

Secondary rebate (applicable to taxpayers aged 65 to 74)

R8 199

R   8 613

Tertiary rebate

(applicable to taxpayers aged 75 and older)

R2 736

R 2 871


3. Tax thresholds

The Primary, Secondary and Tertiary rebates will be increased by 5 per cent. The change in the rebate will mean that persons with taxable income as follows will pay no tax.

Tax thresholds

2020/21 tax year

2021/22 tax year


R83 100

R 87 300


R128 650

R 135 150


R143 850

R 151 100



The tables below illustrate the difference in tax paid by individuals in the 2021/22 tax year from that paid in the 2020/21 tax year based on the tax tables and rebates.

Individuals (younger than age 65)

Taxable income (R)

Tax payable 2021/2022

R   200 000

R   400 000

R   500 000

R   750 000

R1 000 000

R1 500 000

R 2 000 000

R  - 756  (- 3.6 %)

   - 2 390  (- 3.1%)

   - 3 510  (- 3.2 %)

   - 4 496 ( - 2.2 %)

   - 5 140 ( - 1.7%)

   - 5 140 ( - 1.0 %)

   - 8 312 (-1.1%)


Individuals (Age 65 - 74)      2021/2022   

R   200 000

R   400 000

R   500 000

R   750 000

R1 000 000

R1 500 000

R 2 000 000

R -1170    ( -9.1%)

  - 2 804  (- 4.1%)

  - 3 924  (-3.8%)

  - 4910   (-2.5%)

  - 5 554  (-1 1.9%)

  - 5 554  (-1.1%)

  - 8726   (-1.2%)



Individuals Age 75 and over         2021/2022 

R   200 000

R   400 000

R   500 000

R   750 000

R1 000 000

R1 500 000

R 2000 000

R   -1305   (-12.9 %)

    - 2939  (- 4.5 %)

    - 4059  (- 4.1 %)

      - 5045  (-2.6%)

     - 5 689 (-1.9 %)

     - 5689  (-1.1%)

     - 8861  (- 1.2%)

  •  B. VAT

    There was no increase in the VAT rate from the current 15%.

    C. Estate Duty and Donations Tax

    No changes in the 2021 Budget.

    With effect from 1 March 2018, the estate duty rate was increased from 20% to 25% for estates worth R30 Million and more. To limit the staggering of donations to avoid the higher estate duty rate, any donations above R30 Million in one tax year are also taxed at 25%.

    D. Capital gains tax (CGT)

    No changes announced to the taxation of capital gains.

    The capital gains tax inclusion rates remain as follows:
  •  Individuals: 40% (The maximum effective capital gains tax rate for individuals remains 18%.
  •  Companies: 80% (This remains the same at an effective rate of 22.4%.)
  •  Trusts: 80% (The effective rate applicable to trusts remains at 36%.)
  •  Special trusts: The maximum effective rate applicable to special trusts remains at 18%.

    E. Interest Exemption

    No Change. The interest rate exemptions will not be adjusted for inflation.
    Individuals will be encouraged to invest in the new tax-free savings accounts instead.
    In the circumstances the threshold at which tax is paid on interest income remains the same.

Interest exemption for individuals 2021/22

Under age 65 

R23 800

Age 65 and over        

R34 500


F. Tax-Free Savings Accounts

No change. The amount which can be contributed to a Tax Free Savings account is R36 000 per year. The lifetime allowance is R500 000.

G. Transfer Duty

No change.

H. Medical Tax Credits

Government proposes an inflationary increase to the value of the medical tax credits in 2021/2022 from R319 per month to R332 for the first two beneficiaries, and from R215 per month to R224 for the remaining beneficiaries. It is a welcome surprise as it was announcement in the 2018 Budget Review that the credit would be adjusted by less than inflation to help fund the rollout of national health insurance over the medium term.

Monthly Medical Tax Credits for all taxpayers





R    319

R   332

First beneficiary

R    319

R   332

Additional beneficiaries

R    215

R    224

Family of four

R 1 068

R 1 112

Family of four annual credit

R12 816

R  13 448


I. Social Security

The social security grants are increased as follows




Old age grants


War veterans

R1 860


R1 880






(R30 increase for both)

Foster care

R1 040


Child support grant

R   445

R 460 


J.    Indirect Taxes

Total Fuel levies


General fuel levy


Road Accident Fund levy

increase of 27c/litre


Increase of 15 c/litre


Increase of 11c /litre

Carbon tax

The carbon tax rate will increase by 1 cent per litre

Tobacco Products


packet of cigarettes

+ 8 % increase


extra R5.50

Road Accident Fund

Up by 11 cents/litre


340ml can of beer or cider

750ml bottle of wine

750ml bottle of sparkling wine .


bottle of 750 ml spirits, including whisky, gin or vodka,

extra 8%


extra 14c


extra 26c


extra 86c



extra R1.39





K. Corporate Tax Rate

The Minister announced that the corporate tax rate will be reduced from 28% to 27% with effect from 1 April 2021. However there was no real detail regarding this in the Budget Review documents.

L . Unemployment Insurance Fund

The UIF contribution ceiling will be set at R17 711.58 per month from 1 March 2021

M. Dividend Withholding Tax

No changes to the dividend withholding tax rate were announced which remains at 20%.

Additional tax amendments to be expected during the 2021/22 year of assessment.

AA. Retirement Reforms

1. General retirement announcements

The NEDLAC constituencies have agreed to accelerate the introduction of auto-enrolment for all employed workers, and the establishment of a fund to cater for workers currently excluded from pension coverage, as an urgent intervention towards a comprehensive social security system.

Annuitisation for provident funds takes effect from 1 March 2021, and provident fund members will continue to enjoy a tax deduction on their contributions.

2. Regulation 28

National Treasury will this week publish draft amendments to Regulation 28 for public comment. The proposed amendments to Regulation 28 will seek to make it easier for retirement funds to increase investment in infrastructure

3. The minimum value for paid-up retirement annuities

This has not been adjusted since 2007/08. This value will increase from R7 000 to R15 000 from 1 March 2021

4. Allowing members to use retirement interest to acquire annuities on retirement

Although this was not easily understood from the Budget Review, it seems to reflect reform which has been requested by the IRFA for a number of years.

On retirement, a member of a retirement fund (except historically from a provident fund) must purchase a pension with at least two thirds of the retirement benefit/interest. There is a SARS practice note, GN 18, which provides that there are three methods of purchasing a pension, but the member may only exercise one method. The three methods are as follows

- An annuity provided by the fund;
- An annuity bought by the fund from an insurer in the name of the fund;
- A member owned annuity with an insurer

This is extremely restrictive and is not in line with the later regulations to the Pension Funds Act which allow trustees to incorporate more than one method in the fund’s annuity strategy. For example, a member might want to split his or her pension between a guaranteed annuity offered by the fund and a living annuity in the member’s name with an insurer. Currently, under GN 18 this is not available to the member

This intention by National Treasury to provide more flexibility is welcomed as it will potentially enhance a member’s retirement outcome.

5. Applying tax on withdrawals of retirement interest when an individual ceases to be a tax resident

When an individual ceases to be a South African tax resident, there is no obligation to withdraw from the fund. The member may leave his or her money in the fund. However, when the member becomes a non-resident and then decides to withdraw or retire, the double taxation agreement between the country of residence and South Africa might result in tax being paid in the country of residence instead of in South Africa. Consequently, South Africa provided the tax deduction to the member but might never recover the tax

The government proposes a new tax framework which imposes a deemed retirement fund withdrawal tax on individuals when they cease to be a South African resident. When the individual ceases to be a South African tax resident, the individual will be deemed to have withdrawn from the fund on the day before he/she ceases to be a resident. The provisions are not completely clear from the Budget review and we will need to await the proposed draft legislation. However, it seems to intend that the member will not have to pay the tax until the member actually withdraws; retires or dies during fund membership.

It seems that the withdrawal tax (including associated interest) payment will be deferred until payments are received from the retirement fund. The member will be entitled to delay payment of the tax until the funds are accessed. When the individual eventually receives payments from the fund, the tax will be calculated based on the prevailing lump sum tables or in the form of an annuity. If an annuity is purchased, a tax credit might be provided.

As stated above, the general intention is understood but the detail will only be able to be understood when the draft Bill is released later in the year.

6. Transfers between retirement funds by members who are 55 years or older.

With effect from 1 March 2021, all pre-retirement transfers between funds are tax free.
This proposal appears to apply to a member who has been retired from an employer and becomes a deferred member of a retirement fund. Currently the member may only retire from that fund; or transfer to a retirement annuity fund and a preservation fund, and retire later from the transferee fund.
It seems that Treasury intends for a deferred member to be permitted to transfer to employer funds too. This was a proposal put forward by industry organisations. We will attempt to get more clarity on this.

7. Clarifying the calculation of the fringe benefit in relation to employer contributions to a retirement fund

From 1 March 2016, all employer contributions to a retirement fund on behalf of employees were considered taxable fringe benefits for the employees. If the contribution contains a defined benefit component, the fringe benefit is to be calculated in accordance with the seventh schedule of the Income Tax Act and the employer must provide the employee with a contribution certificate. An anomaly arises in instances where a retirement fund provides both a retirement benefit in relation to the defined contribution component and a self-insured risk benefit. The current interpretation of the legislation would result in the classification of the total contribution to the fund as a defined benefit component because self-insured risk benefits are not considered a defined contribution component. It is proposed that self-insured risk benefits be classified as a defined contribution component to ensure that retirement funds that provide both defined contribution component retirement benefits and self-insured risk benefits can provide the fringe benefit value based on the actual contribution.

BB. Individuals employment and savings

1. Reviewing the nature of long-service awards for fringe benefit purposes

The Income Tax Act (1962) permits an employer to grant a long-service award (in the form of an asset or a non-cash benefit) to an employee as a no value fringe benefit provided that the value of this award does not exceed R5 000. It is proposed that awards, other than in the form of cash or an asset should be considered.

2. Clarifying the timing of disposal rules in respect of an asset acquired from a deceased estate

At present, there is timing uncertainty around when the heirs are regarded as having acquired an asset from the estate of the deceased. Legislation is proposed so that the disposal by the estate occurs on the date when the liquidation and distribution account becomes final.

3. Tax treatment of the cession of a right to receive an asset

Certain disposals that are regarded as either “gross income” or donations in terms of the Act. Some taxpayers have devised schemes which entails the cession of a right to receive the use of an asset to a trust for no or little value. This tax avoidance technique will be closed

4. Strengthening anti-avoidance rules in respect of loan transfers between trusts

Section 7C will be further amended to close new anti-avoidance measures where loans are transferred to trusts to avoid Estate Duty.

5. Clarifying the rules dealing with withholding tax exemption declaration

The Act contains provisions for withholding tax on royalties and interest. The declaration that is available on interest, where the person can declare their exempt status from tax in terms of a double taxation agreement, will be extended to royalties.

6. Value-added tax

Zero-rating of super fine maize meal: The VAT Act will be amended to include super fine maize meal in the list of grades of maize meal that qualify for zero rating.

The VAT Act does not make provision for micro-insurer conducting a micro-insurance business. It is proposed that the VAT Act be amended to make provision for the VAT treatment of micro-insurance.

CC. Tax Administration

1. Rebuilding the South African Revenue Service

The Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance by SARS (the Nugent Commission) made 27 recommendations to address governance failures at the institution. To date, the Commissioner for SARS has implemented 14 of these recommendations, including re-establishing the Large Business Centre, and units focusing on litigation, compliance and integrity. The performance of the previous executive committee was reviewed, and operational policies related to VAT refunds, settlements and debt collection contracts are being amended.

This year, SARS has started legal processes to recover unwarranted expenditure and handed over case files on persons identified in the Nugent report. The inter-agency working group on criminal and illicit economic activities completed 117 investigations, yielding revenue of R2.7 billion.

Customs and excise operations are reducing the illicit movement of goods across borders, assisted by specialised cargo scanners, resulting in 3 393 seizures valued at R1.5 billion for the fiscal year to January 2021.

Following the recommendations of the Davis Tax Committee, SARS will focus on consolidating wealth data for taxpayers through third-party information. This will assist in broadening the tax base, improving tax compliance and assessing the feasibility of a wealth tax.

An additional spending allocation of R3 billion will be provided to SARS to modernise its technology infrastructure and systems, expand and improve the use of data analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities, and participate meaningfully in global tax compliance initiatives. A digitalised SARS is intended to lower costs of compliance, simplify tax administration and improve collections.

2. Tax-deductible donations

SARS has detected that receipts are being issued by entities that are not approved to do so. To ensure that only valid donations are claimed and to enhance SARS’ ability to pre-populate individuals’ returns, SARS is going to require more information in the receipts.

3. Aligning periods for refunds of dividends tax for cash and in-kind dividends

Treasury intends standardising the period within which a taxpayer may claim a dividends tax refund for in-kind dividends to the date of payment of the dividend, as with other dividends.

4. Administrative non-compliance penalties for non-submission of six-monthly employees’ tax returns

SARS may impose a penalty for the non-submission of the six-monthly employees’ tax returns by employers. Adjustments will be made for the penalty to be more effective in enhancing compliance

5. Provisional taxpayers with shorter tax years

It is proposed that a first provisional tax payment and return not be required when the duration of a year of assessment does not exceed six months, due to death and other valid reasons.

6. Review of voluntary disclosure programme

The voluntary disclosure provisions will be reviewed in 2021 to ensure that they align with SARS’ strategic objectives and the policy objectives of the programme.


South Africa has great challenges. Government debt is at 80.3% of GDP, projected at 87.3% in 2023 and at 88.9 per cent in 2025/26, and the public sector wage bill continues to be a concern. High government debt levels increase the cost of borrowing across the economy. Servicing this rising debt takes away resources that could have been invested in infrastructure. The South African economy is expected to rebound by 3.3 per cent this year, following a 7.2 per cent contraction in 2020 and average 1.9 per cent in the next two years.

On the bright side, individual taxpayers were given relief against fiscal drag in our tax tables, tax rebates and even in our medical tax credits.

Quick Polls


Covid-19 may accelerate certain industry trends. What are we likely to see?


Adoption of contactless technologies and digital experiences will likely be accelerating emerging technologies further
The consumer will expect safety and precautionary measures, driving the need for enhanced surveillance policies and technologies, which may pose potential privacy concerns
Rising activism among consumers and employees could drive an increased focus on corporate purpose
Value chain disruption is likely to lead to an increase in creative partnerships, which may in turn cause organisations to further invest in developing the mindset and agility to collaborate across sectors in the ecosystem
Cost management will be a critical priority to ensure business continuity based on cash flow requirements, to manage lower margins and revenues during a downturn
fanews magazine
FAnews April 2021 Get the latest issue of FAnews

This month's headlines

Randsomware attacks... SA businesses' biggest risk
Know the difference - compliance vs ethics
Better business by virtue of Beethoven
The future of vaccines
Harmonisation of retirement funds
Call centres and the maze of auto-prompts
The next 18 to 24 months are going to be tough
Subscribe now