ONE still often hears that old brag: "I've got this bright accountant/lawyer who has set up all my properties in separate companies and trusts. Since my spouse and I are directors/trustees, we won't ever pay estate duty."
I am often asked where I source all the statistics quoted in this column. The answer is the SA Revenue Service and National Treasury. It's all there on the websites.
Non-profit organisations, be they educational, recreational, religious or charitable, are part of our daily lives. Yet when it comes to administration and compliance with legislation, many are lacking.
Taxpayers seldom succeed in appeals to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). In the recent NWK decision many tax pundits openly criticised the judgment of Judge Carole Lewis as it shifted boundaries in tax planning that had existed for 100 years.
Recent amendments to the transfer-pricing provisions contained in section 31 of the Income Tax Act have increased the stakes substantially.
Over the past two weeks the Sunday Times has featured articles by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan appealing for cooperation and leadership to address challenges facing South Africa.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan wants more from us. Not just taxes - he wants more leadership, ideas and involvement, particularly in job creation.
It will soon be 200 years since the 1820 Settlers arrived in the Eastern Cape. "We must stand and grow or die where we stand," were Henry Dugmore's famous words. They died like flies, or just went home in despair.
For the 2012/13 tax year the interest income exemption is R22800 for those under 65 years old and R33000 for those over 65.
In February's budget speech Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that tax collection estimates for the fiscal year ended March 31 were only slightly off track. But more than 50% of provisional tax is now collected on the second provisional payments due at the end of February and March. So it was an estimate.
POST the 2010 World Cup, international tourism to South Africa has nose-dived. Most first-class tourist facilities are now desperately under-utilised. South Africa has become a trip too far and too expensive compared with a holiday in Europe for à20 on Ryanair.
Two aspects of the recent budget speech have not received due praise.
Jeremy Clarkson reckons that if they invented the motor car today, it would never be allowed on the road. "Too dangerous, too environmentally unfriendly and generally antisocial," politicians would shout.
As a student, I once received a reprimand from the then vice-chancellor, Dr Derek Henderson. "Put your God first, your fellow man second and yourself a very poor third," he said.
This is the 22nd year I have covered the national budget speech. I watched Trevor Manuel do some great stuff, but nothing approaches the wisdom Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan displayed in parliament this week.
It is nearly three years since Jacob Zuma ousted Thabo Mbeki as president and Pravin Gordhan (PG) took over as minister of finance from Trevor Manuel.
If there is a tax cut for individual taxpayers in the upcoming National Budget speech it will not be much.
Some say I'm illiterate. And they're probably right. I cannot understand the never-ending pursuit of Ernest Hemingway.
Every year we are led to believe that the individual taxpayer gets a better deal in the national budget. And, yes, tax tables for individuals are adjusted favourably every year. For example, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan put back R5-billion in 2010/11 and R8-billion in 2011/12.
SARS has tightened up the legislation relating to employer-provided life insurance schemes (often referred to as group life schemes).
Thirty years ago kids left home to go to the army or university and never came back. To move back in with mom and dad afterwards was considered naff. Today, they never leave - and boyfriends and girlfriends move in too, to help whittle away mom and dad's pension plan.
HOLIDAYS. Sitting on the boat waiting for a fish to bite is a good time to ponder what was on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's mind over the festive season. What will he call on Budget Day, February 22 2012?
With the world economy in tatters, no government has the money to make any meaningful difference to our environment.
Working mothers often say, "I'm only doing this to pay for the kids' education." This is a South African tradition that goes back as far as private schools. But is it sustainable?
National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel's national development plan has enjoyed much support, even from the unions. Yet only Lindiwe Mazibuko of the DA will be left in parliament in 2030 to see if anything comes of it. The rest will all be in the Shady Pines retirement home.
Not every company has the financial resources to pay a big-hitter to be on hand as a non-executive director for special occasions only.
The SA Revenue Service (SARS) must have put a lot of thought into the new Tax Administration Bill (TAB) currently before parliament.
The breweries will tell you that a day of lost turnover is lost forever.
It is difficult to criticise Pravin Gordhan's medium-term budget policy statement. Isn't it nice to have a finance minister who is so on top of his game while the rest of us grope for answers?
MUCH is made of the national budget speech in February every year. But the medium-term budget framework speech (MTBF) in October is far less of an occasion. It's even referred to as the "mini budget".
A cocktail of great leadership from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Warren Buffett, Pravin Gordhan and Jacko Maree has created a mood of: "How can I help solve South Africa's problems today? And if I could secure a tax deduction on a donation, I might donate even more!" So here are some rules to help.
A senior Democratic Alliance member of parliament once told me, "Matthew, the DA already has the support of nearly all SA's taxpayers."
Government's R500-million teacher laptop initiative "TLI" has collapsed. So while taxpayers are being charged R191-billion a year on education, SA cannot provide 350000 teachers with an essential tool of the trade. Some critics will say that's just lame. Laptops are compulsory for every boy at Bishops.
South Africa's growth rate for the second quarter dropped to 1.4%. That causes the expected 2011/12 annual growth rate to slip back to 3.4% - spot on the National Treasury forecast of February 2011.
Many South Africans can tell you where they were when FW de Klerk capitulated in February 1990. Few can tell you that today's Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, was sitting in jail in Bethlehem in the Free State. Struggle credentials like that could have been traded to become one of the new SA's multibillionaires.
How is it that taxpayers have lost nearly every tax-planning opportunity over the last 10 years and made Trevor Manuel and Pravin Gordhan national heroes at the same time? But just let Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu mention wealth taxes and everybody freaks out.
Paragraph 12 of the policy paper on National Health Insurance says SA has a "two-tier healthcare system, which is unsustainable, destructive, very costly and highly curative or hospi-centric".
Remember the old saying that what happens in Europe and the US will be in South Africa in six months' time?
Reciently I was pleasantly surprised when charged R900 for a 100km taxi trip to Heathrow. Back in SA the next day the fare was R500 for a 30km run in an equivalent vehicle. A UK taxi is now cheaper than an SA one!
There should be a website for celebrity tax blunders. Boris Becker could feature for visiting his sister and becoming tax-resident in Germany overnight. He got caught by the German tax Gestapo and nearly went to jail.
In winter, a string of ghost towns lines SA's coast. Maybe one in five properties is occupied. When will the coastal property market recover?
Only the laundry really knows the extent of the shock that hit the tax profession when the draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill was released on June 2.
Tax professionals are squabbling among themselves over the recent judgments of Judge Carole Lewis in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
Effective March 1 2012, the tax-free portion of the employer medical aid contribution is lost, to be replaced by a medical aid credit. Who wins and who hurts?