SA, should we stop complaining about tax money being misused?

Phumelela Makhoba
April 26, 2024
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Before we begin to examine service delivery and voice our concerns about SARS, let's remind ourselves of why we pay tax. 

And where the problem lies in the government's service delivery.

I know we complain about tax money being misused. When you see that pothole on the highway or wake up in a bouse with water and electricity, you look at how much of your salary lands up going towards - which feels like nothing. And to top it all off, there are much deeper, underlying issues that have been brought to our attention since we are going to vote in the South African national elections on May 29.  

Paying taxes is not just an act of patriotism, it's a shared commitment for a better future (Photo: Ubuntu Pics)

Considering the many changes, and that this isn't always the most important thing on your mind -my people with incomes!

Here is what you owe SARS:

Firstly, if you earn under R8000 monthly in South Africa, you are not liable for paying income tax.

(all figures below consider your income per month)

R10k to R20k - you pay between R360 to R2 100 per month

R20k to R40k -  you pay between R2 100 to R7 800 per month.

R40k to R100k-  you pay between R7 800 to R31 200 per month.

How does this translate into running my country? How much of my tax is being misused?

A large part of your tax goes to paying nurses, teachers, police officers, traffic cops, government department workers, maintaining roads, government buildings, schools, clinics, hospitals, universities—essentially, running the nation.

There are 3 million taxpayers who pay 90% of the tax, while 29 million people receive grants. 

Most taxpayers earn between R8000 and R20,000 per month; since they pay based on their income, they don't pay as much—it's concentrated at the top.

What About VAT?

"Everyone pays tax because of Value-Added Tax (VAT)."

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but ...

Not entirely and not permanently; let me paint the whole picture:

Most basic foodstuffs do not attract any VAT.


  • Bread, pasta, rice
  • Vegetables, fruits, milk, 
  • Cooking oil, tinned foods, etc. 
  • Public transport doesn't attract tax or VAT. 
  • So, those earning less than R5000 per month pay almost no VAT unless they buy items that attract the sin tax.

Those who earn above R50,000 a month truly pay the lion's share of tax in SA. That's the 1% to 3% wealthiest people in South Africa. Their VAT costs are also very high by design.  Plus, they pay workers, donate to charities, pay school fees, pay medical aid, etc. Some of these are essentially double taxation.

My Call-to-Action is this:

- Calculate the monthly tax you pay

- Calculate how much of your tax funds social welfare

- Calculate how much of your taxes pay civil servant salaries

- Calculate how much of your tax funds public infrastructure

Corruption is objectively wrong, & those found to misuse tax money should be exposed & severely punished. 

We all agree that our tax money can be used more efficiently. 

And we need more taxpayers. We deserve a better economy.