Look at the wealth gap before moaning

08 April 2012 - 02:16 By Matthew Lester

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.

Matthew Lester
Matthew Lester

On April 1, total tax collection was confirmed at R742-billion - exactly as forecast on budget day in February 2011. And R4-billion up on the February 2012 budget day estimate.

There are only two major variances. VAT came up R11-billion short and that was cancelled out by company tax collections being R10-billion over. The rest is in the detail.

Now it's back to work for SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula. He has a mountain to climb in the 2012/13 fiscal year. Get an extra R17-billion from companies, an extra R33-billion from transaction taxes and another R33-billion from individuals' tax.

SA's budgeting and tax collection system is world class. In June there will be more refinement when the Income Tax Amendment Bill commences the parliamentary process.

This week fuel went up by a minimum of 66c a litre - 28c of that is tax. Electricity is up by 16%, plus VAT and an increased electricity levy. And many Gautengers will soon commence paying highway tolls, also VAT leviable. Many will already be paying higher taxes on medical aid and group life and disability insurance from March 2012.

That hurts. But it's not the biggest problem. The minimum wage for a domestic worker ranges from R7.06c to R9.85c an hour, or between R70 and R100 a day.

Then they pay R11 for a litre of milk, R12 for a can of pilchards, R11 for a loaf of bread and nearly R12 for a litre of paraffin. That's R46 a day - five to seven hours' work just to survive. The minimum wage is fixed until December 1, but the inflationary effects of increased energy prices are not.

Last week I received a bitter letter from a taxpayer whingeing about the increases in capital gains tax and how it affects his property portfolio.

Look around you mate! Can you not see the wealth gap? An increase in CGT is a small price to pay for those fortunate enough to ever enjoy a taxable capital gain. Or would you prefer the Julius alternative?

  • Lester is a professor at the Rhodes Business School, Grahamstown. See www.criticalthought.co.za