Ben Franklin famously noted that the only certainties are death and taxes, and estate planners have been trying to avoid the latter in the event of the former ever since.
A deceased person's retirement funds are exempt from estate duty, largely on the basis that the resulting lump sums paid to the estate are subject to income tax according to the concessionary lump sum tables. However, in addition to the first ZAR500 000, the return of any previously non-deducted contributions are tax-free. This permits individuals to contribute large sums to retirement funds, free of donations tax, in excess of their tax-free contribution limit (ie without getting an income tax deduction) safe in the knowledge that their estate will pay neither income tax nor estate duty on these sums when they pass away. Amendments will be introduced to ensure such non-deducted contributions are not exempt from estate duty. While this amendment is no doubt the result of abuse by some planners, there are many taxpayers who have legitimately made non-deducted contributions, eg, while working overseas, who will suffer as a result. The tracking of non-deducted contributions over a person's lifetime has also proved notoriously difficult.