Many taxpayers file their tax returns on an annual basis unaware thereof that they may be regarded as provisional taxpayers in terms of the Income Tax Act, 58 of 1962, too. In its simplest form, provisional tax exists to provide for regular cash flows to the fiscus throughout the year. In this sense it exists for very much the same purpose as the PAYE system, with provisional tax applying though typically to non-salary type income.The following persons are considered provisional taxpayers in terms of the Fourth Schedule to the Income Tax Act, and are thus required to file provisional tax returns and make the attendant payments of provisional tax over and above those annual obligations which exist as relates to their annual income tax returns:

  • Every person (other than a company, but including a trust) who generally earns any income other than in the form of “remuneration” as defined;
  • Every company; and
  • Any person who is notified by the Commissioner for SARS that he or she is a provisional taxpayer.

The above however excludes:

  • Any natural person who does not derive any income from carrying on a business, if the taxable income for that person does not exceed:
    • the tax threshold (for 2016: R73,650 for individuals under 65, R114,800 for individuals under 75 and R128,500 for all other individuals); or
    • R30,000 as relates to interest, dividends or rent received from letting immovable property;
  • Deceased estates;
  • Certain approved public benefit organisations;
  • Body corporates; and
  • Small Business Funding entities.

Many taxpayers may be completely unaware thereof that they are required to file returns as provisional taxpayers. This is especially true of typically individuals earning a salary but for example letting a second property which they may own to earn a second income stream. These individuals will, based on the above prerequisites, have to ensure that they file bi-annual provisional tax returns and pay the requisite amount over to SARS in time (due by 31 August and 28/29 February each year). Failure to comply in this fashion will lead to significant penalties being incurred on late payment, or underestimation of the amount of provisional tax due: failure to submit a return when required is considered as the taxpayer having filed a return for Rnil.

As is the case for PAYE though, the provisional tax system does not operate as a tax per se but rather as the prepayment of a yet to be determined income tax liability. Therefore, once the ultimate amount of tax due for any given year of assessment has been determined after filing one’s annual income tax return, the resultant tax liability is reduced by provisional tax payments already made (and PAYE withheld) and the difference is then either due to SARS or to the taxpayer as a refund of the provisional tax paid too much.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)