Some taxes, fuel, electricity levies to rise

2015-02-25 14:57

Cape Town - Some personal income tax increases, a raise in the general fuel levy, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) levy, and the electricity levy, and increased excise duties, are among the measures announced by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in his 2015/16 budget on Wednesday.

Presenting his first main budget as finance minister in the National Assembly, he said personal income tax rates would be raised by one percent for all taxpayers earning more than R181 900 a year.

"This raises tax by R21 a month for a taxpayer below age 65 with an annual income of R200 000. Those earning R500 000 would pay R271 a month more, and at R1.5m a year the tax increase is R1 105 a month."

However, tax brackets, rebates and medical scheme contribution credits would be adjusted for inflation, as in previous years.

"The net effect is that there will be tax relief below about R450 000 a year, while those with higher incomes will pay more in tax," Nene said.

The general fuel levy would increase by 30.5c/litre and the RAF levy by 50c/litre, effective from April 1.

"I am also proposing a number of tax measures to promote energy efficiency, which will be discussed further with industry, the electricity regulator, Eskom, and other interested parties.

These included a temporary increase in the electricity levy, from 3.5c/kWh to 5.5c/kWh, to assist in demand management.

This additional 2c/kWh would be withdrawn when the electricity shortage was over.

But, an increase was also proposed in the energy-efficiency savings incentive from 45c/kWh to 95c/kWh, together with its extension to cogeneration projects.

Other measures under consideration included enhancing the accelerated depreciation for solar photovoltaic renewable energy.

"In the absence of a carbon tax, the electricity levy serves both to promote energy efficiency and encourage lower greenhouse gas emissions.

"The introduction of a carbon tax in 2016 will provide an additional tool to deal more sustainably with the current electricity shortage, while lowering the electricity levy. A draft carbon tax bill will be introduced later this year for a further round of public consultation."

Nene also announced a more generous tax regime for businesses with a turnover below R1m a year.

Qualifying businesses with a turnover below R335 000 a year would pay no tax, and the maximum rate was reduced from six percent to three percent.

To complement this, the SA Revenue Service would establish small business desks in its revenue offices to help in complying with tax requirements.

The rates and brackets for transfer duties on the sale of property would be adjusted to provide relief to middle-income households.

"The new rates eliminate transfer duty on properties below R750 000, while the rate on properties above R2.25m will increase."

Substantial increases in "sin taxes" included an increase of 82c for a pack of 20 cigarettes, and R3.77 on a bottle of whisky.

Nene said consolidated government spending in 2015/16 was expected to be R1.35trn and revenue about R1.189tn, while GDP was projected to grow from two percent in 2015 to 2.4% in 2016, and three percent in 2017.

The budget deficit was expected to be 3.9% of GDP for 2014/15 and 2015/16, narrowing to 2.5% in 2017/18, while CPI inflation was expected to come in at 4.3% in 2015, 5.9 in 2016, and 5.7% in 2017.

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