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A R13bn tax shortfall - and we know how fiscal holes are filled‚ don’t we?

13 September 2017 - 16:20 By tom eaton
President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma.
Image: David Harrison

“Bad news‚” you tell your beloved as you slump at the kitchen table after a long day at the office. “I’ve done the sums and we’re not going to have enough money to get through next year.”

Beloved is alarmed. “Where did it all go?”

You shrug‚ confounded by the whole thing. “I’ve been staring at the bank statements and all I can think is that it was that time I drew a quarter of our life savings and pushed it through a paper-shredder.”

You notice that Beloved is looking a bit stunned‚ so you smile reassuringly. “Don’t worry‚” you say‚ “our new investment is still fine.”

“What new investment?” whispers Beloved.

“Oh it’s a hot new start-up run by my mate Stinky. He says burning money is the next big thing and he’s getting in right on the ground floor.”

“Oh god…”

“I know‚ it’s brilliant. He says everyone is burning money these days‚ but nobody has the time to do it well‚ so what he does is‚ he takes your money and he burns it for you‚ and you only have to pay him a 10% service fee.”

Beloved begins to sob. “What are we going to do?”

“Well‚” you say‚ “you’re probably going to have to eat less and get a second job.”

“And you?”

“Oh no‚” you laugh‚ “I’m still going to eat the same amount. In fact‚ probably more. But I’ll work the same hours.”

Absurd‚ right? Except that’s what happened this week‚ when the state’s accountants told us that they are facing a R13-billion tax revenue shortfall for the first quarter. And we all know how fiscal holes are filled‚ don’t we?

Still‚ I feel for SARS. I mean‚ where could they possibly find an extra R13-billion?

Yes‚ the state spends almost a billion a year on lawyers to fix its screw-ups‚ R300-million of which is for handling police-related crimes; but you can’t expect the police not to shoot people‚ right?

And yes‚ it spent R2.6-billion on trains that didn’t work so that the Guptas could get their cut‚ but trains and blessers are complicated things‚ OK?

And yes‚ it’s about to give another R10-billon to SAA‚ but show me one single national carrier that makes a profit. Except Qantas. And British Airways. And Malaysian. And Ethiopian. Shut up.

And yes‚ even if you ignore the reported R10-billion a year that goes to state captors‚ there’s the common or garden R25-billion lost to “wasteful and irregular spending”; but that Johnnie Blue isn’t going to pay for itself‚ you know.

So dry your eyes‚ Beloved. Shh. I love you. We’re such a great team.

Now get out there and earn my living.