South African trusts: eroding the tax base

Jeaven, Pravir
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Abstract The South African Revenue Service (‘SARS’) and National Treasury has in the recent past identified various areas of tax in which taxpayers have been avoiding tax by arranging their affairs in a certain way. An area which SARS and National Treasury sees as being a danger to the South African tax base is the utilisation of trusts by individuals. This was made evident in the 2013 National Budget Speech by way of a passing high-level comment on how SARS proposes to mitigate the risk that trusts pose to the South African tax base. This research evaluates whether trusts do in fact pose a valid risk to erode the tax base and whether they are as ‘deadly’ as they are made out to be. A discussion of the taxation of local trusts is included in this paper and it continues by analysing the various antiavoidance provisions contained in the Income Tax Act. In addition, this paper discusses the proposed amendments to be made to the current tax regime as well as the revised tax return format for trusts and the supposed purpose thereof. The paper concludes on the validity of the concern raised by both SARS and National Treasury in respect of trusts being used as vehicles to erode the South African tax base.
Anti-avoidance, SARS, Tax avoidance, Tax evasion, Trusta