An analysis into the reform required in respect of the Value-Added Tax treatment of educational services

Jeewa, Tanisha Jogi
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The aim of the report is to determine whether the current Value-Added Tax (‘VAT’) treatment relating to the exemption applied on educational services should be retained and to ascertain whether the policy considerations which applied when VAT was introduced are still relevant, or whether changed circumstances would justify the introduction of a different treatment or concessions in relation to these services. The most critical and significant challenge being faced by VAT vendors and universities in particular is compliance with a vast array of amendments to the VAT Legislation, Binding Rulings, Guides and Interpretation Notes issued by the South African Revenue Service (‘SARS’). Noncompliance for whatever reason may result in irregular expenditure and significant penalties and interest imposed for non-compliance, especially in light of the additional penalties being imposed in terms of the Tax Administration Act which was promulgated in October 2012. VAT therefore has a direct impact on the financial affairs and cash flow of VAT registered entities. Furthermore, government funding in respect of tertiary institutions has been on the decline in recent years while the costs of running a tertiary institution have continued to be on the rise. This development has necessitated a change of approach in how tertiary institutions manage their operations. Consequently, there developed a strong need for tertiary institutions to find alternative ways of raising extra funds to make up for the shortfall caused by the decline in funding from government. The provision of short courses, in addition to the traditional full semester diploma and degree courses provided by the institutions, was identified as an opportunity to deliver a certain varied level of educational services to an existing suitable market. This opportunity presented attractive prospects as an alternative source of funding for the institutions in the wake of depleting government funding. In this regard, many of the institutions formed a number of vehicles in order to offer the short courses to the market. The rationale behind such approaches is in order to distinguish the traditional education services (diploma and degree courses) from the non-traditional educational services (short courses).
A research report to be submitted to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Commerce (Taxation) 31 March 2016
Jeewa, Tanisha Jogi (2016) An analysis into the reform required in respect of the value-added tax treatment of educational services, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>