South Africa is a legal Tax Haven

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Zane De Decker, MD Flyt Property Investment

South Africa is currently enjoying the status of a Tax Haven – a bold statement, I admit, and one that some might think outrageous, but if you break down the monetary calculations of a Section 12J investment, you will realise the glaring opportunity too.

I’m still quite astounded at how many investors and financial advisors don’t fully understand the workings of SARS 12J tax incentive, which incidentally has a cut-off date of June 2021.

Think about this; 100 per cent of what you earn can be tax deductible via the 12J structure. Since the introduction of the limit to the total amount permitted to be invested annually (those in the know were taking advantage) an individual still has the opportunity to invest R5million (R2.5m this year and R2.5m in 2021) and a company is limited to R10million (R5m this year and R5m next year). So, essentially, if you are an entrepreneur who owns your own company, you can easily – and legally – enjoy a R15 million tax deduction.

Salary earners, too, need to be taking advantage of the structure. Let’s say you earn R1m per annum; you are permitted to invest the R2.5m per annum (so R5m). If you invest the R5million, you’ve created a tax loss that will shield the next R5million of your salary. In other words, you will pay no tax for the next 5 years! SARS will reimburse you your monthly tax deductions when you submit your tax return.

Beg, borrow or steal

When our clients do finally catch on to this Tax Haven window, they’re looking in all sorts of places for some money to invest. At Flyt, we have developed our Section12J product to such an extent that we offer our clients who don’t have the R2.5million (or any part thereof) available to invest, an option to borrow the funds. The tax deduction/reimbursement will take care of a large portion of the repayment after which income derived from the investment pays off the remainder of the loan.

Instead of conjuring up clever and expensive ideas of how to avoid paying tax, rather just find a decent Section 12J fund and shield it?

I find it strange that many high net-worth individuals send their money offshore to favoured tax havens such as Isle of Man or The Bahamas. Now that sounds wonderful to be sending your hard-earned cash on an island holiday, but what does it really mean? As a start, it means you’ve probably invested in a random company or fund, that you know very little about, which yields a low ROI and attracts very handsome set-up costs and ongoing management fees. This all somewhere exotic you’re hoping to go and visit one day.

BUT, more importantly, we must not forget the intention of Section 12J is to stimulate investment into certain sectors of our economy with the end goal of creating jobs. Any South African investor, especially in these trying times, who has the opportunity to invest would be missing a huge opportunity to boost the economy, be a part of the solution and take complete advantage of the short-lived tax haven status we are currently legally enjoying.

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WHAT IS SECTION 12

Section 12J of the Income Tax Act – the most efficient tax saving tool, provided by SARS and government that allows you to hold on to your tax cash while investing it wisely.

The section specifically aims to help the growth of small and medium sized businesses by increasing their access to equity finance. To attract investors into this typically under-funded sector, which is imperative for driving economic growth, SARS has written Section 12J into the Tax Act, which offers taxpayers a 100% tax deduction in the year of investment if they invest in SMMEs by way of subscription of shares in a Section 12J Venture Capital Company.

Flyt’s Section 12J compliant property developments give investors the full 12J tax deduction, allowing them to put this saving/refund towards their property purchase. This means that SARS will effectively fund up to 45% of the purchase price of the property.

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