Your Tax Deadlines for December 2023

  • 7 December – Monthly Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) submissions and payments
  • 28 December – Excise Duty payments
  • 29 December – End of 3rd Financial Quarter
  • 29 December – Value-Added Tax (VAT) electronic submissions and payments & CIT Provisional payments where applicable.

Festive Season Gifts for Employees? Here’s How SARS Will Tax Them

“Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.” (John D. Rockefeller Jr.)

Most businesses want to show appreciation to their employees at the end of a long year’s work, and the “Season of Giving” is the ideal time. A thoughtful gift will make any employee feel more recognised and appreciated, and this will improve morale and enhance perceptions about the company and could even increase employee satisfaction and loyalty.

SARS, however, considers almost any kind of gift to employees as a taxable fringe benefit, and therefore companies need to check with their accountants before giving, to ensure the tax implications are fully understood and taken into consideration.

What does SARS regard as gifts?

Any asset, commodity, goods or property of any nature provided by the employer to the employee at no cost, or a cost which is less than the market value of that item, is regarded as a taxable benefit in the hands of the employee, as per Paragraph 2(a) of the Seventh Schedule to the Income Tax Act.

This means that any gift that can be regarded as an asset will be subject to employees’ tax – whether physical or intangible, and regardless of the value, because there is also no minimum value below which gifts from an employer are exempt from tax.

Furthermore, the gift will be taxable even if the gift is given to an employee’s family member, such as a partner or a child.

Also remember that the onus of proof lies with your company should SARS challenge the tax treatment of any gifts to your employees.

Tax on common employee gifts

Tangible gifts, such as watches or electronic devices, will be taxed in the hands of the employee based on its market value, or on the cost to the employer.

Intangible gifts such as flights, bus tickets or accommodation are also considered as taxable benefits to the employee and the cost to the employer is the taxable amount.

Gift cards and vouchers are among the most popular gifts for employees, but beware!  These are taxed at the same rate as if it the employee received cash. In some cases, it may be better to gift cash instead of a card or voucher that would limit the employee to a single retailer or outlet.

Similarly, bonusses are taxed at the same rate as other remuneration. This means that the amount of the bonus will be added to an employee’s annual salary when the rate of tax payable for the year is determined. The danger here is that the bonus amount might push some employees into a higher tax bracket.

How must the tax be deducted? 

Depending on the nature of the gift, employers will need to determine the cash equivalent, or the market value, or the cost to the company to calculate the employee tax that must be deducted.

This can be quite complex, for example, the value of a benefit where accommodation is provided depends on whether the company owns the property or rents it, as well as whether or not the employee pays towards the accommodation.

The taxable amount calculated must then be reflected as a fringe benefit on the employee’s payslip, and PAYE must be determined and deducted. The benefit must also be declared on the employee’s IRP5/IT3(a) certificate.

Some exceptions?

There may be some possible exceptions, for example, if a gift to an employee does not involve any cost to the employer or where the employee gifts are used for business purposes.

An end-of-year function – whether a lunch celebrating the year’s achievements, or a team-building experience with snacks and refreshments, or a Festive Season office party with employees and their partners – is also a great way to treat your team with a delicious meal and complimentary drinks in a fun and social setting. The food and drinks will be tax-deductible expenses, regarded as a non-taxable occasional meal.

Paid time off work may also be an option that does not have tax implications for the employee.

An employer could also make a donation on an employee’s behalf as a gift. If an employer agrees to process a donation to a S18A-approved organisation through its payroll, such a donation can reduce the employee’s PAYE liability.

Professional advice is vital!

Whichever way your company decides to gift your employees, check with your accountant first to ensure it is both tax compliant and tax efficient.

How to Write a One-Page Business Plan

“If you do not know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” (Henry A. Kissinger)

Creating a business plan is one of the most important processes when running a business. It is the roadmap for the success of any business and should include everything from cash flow planning to expansion strategies and the company’s mission statement. If you want to take out a loan a full-length plan is invaluable, but on a day-to-day basis these documents can be lengthy and difficult to access.

A one-page business plan is primarily a communication tool and is developed as a way to quickly summarise the key points of a business and its goals. It’s a great way to clearly define often complex issues in a simple manner and keep executives, partners or staff focused on the mission at hand. They are also a strong place to start when developing a full-length business plan and can help companies to pivot in changing times.

What should a one-page business plan include?

Your one-page business plan needs to include everything below, but resist going into the details. Keep each point to a few well focused sentences. Remove unnecessary words and adjectives.

  • A Brief Description

    The first thing to do is to simply describe the types of products and services that make up your business.

  • Customer Pain Points

    What problem are you solving for your customers? Why does your product or service exist? And why are these products or services better than those of your competitors? Avoid generalities and keep your answer focused.

  • Competitive Advantages

    This is where you look at the things that make you and your company perfect for your industry. What makes you stand out? Is it the team you have put together? Your business model or a unique invention?

  • Making Money

    This is the space for a three-point financial model. It should include your revenue sources, your company costs and the pricing strategy for your products. Again, avoid the specific amounts. This is not a budget. It simply points to where the money comes from and how it is spent in three sentences.

  • Marketing Plan

    How do you get your product to your customers and how do you tell people about your business? What are your main sources for attracting new business? This is just a high-level overview on how you go about marketing and making sales.

  • The Competition

    In one line only, describe each of your major competitors and what makes their business a success.

  • Your Co-workers

    This is your chance to look at the key figures you have hired to make your company a success. Who are the most important people and why are they important? This will help you to understand which of your employees should be earmarked for promotions or bonuses, and training.

  • Future Funding

    What are the major things you may need funding for over the next few years? Why do you foresee the need for money in these areas?

  • Your “Why”

    Why are you doing this? What do you hope to achieve from your company and what is the end goal? While this is not included in a normal business plan, in your one-pager it can help act as a motivation and remind you why everything else exists.