Whereas an increase of 1% in the value-added tax (VAT) rate to 15% (effective 1 April 2018) was announced in the Budget, no adjustments were made to the top four income tax brackets. Rather, below-inflation adjustments to the bottom three income tax brackets were announced. It was further announced that the primary, secondary and tertiary rebates would be partially adjusted for inflation.
The Budget acknowledged the recent increase in effective capital gains tax rates, the dividends tax rate and the establishment of the 45% top bracket for individuals. This has led to an increase in the tax burden on individuals. According to the Budget, an additional personal income tax rate increase would have had greater negative consequences for growth and investment than an increase in VAT. Significant shortfalls from personal income tax in 2017/18 also suggested that a further increase may not yield the revenue required to stabilise the public finances. It was also mentioned that, in recent years, corruption and wasteful expenditure in the public sector has eroded taxpayer morality and that the lack of an effective government response to allegations of corruption and poor governance has undermined the social contract between taxpayers and the state.
There is further a global trend to reduce corporate income tax rates. An increase in corporate income tax rates would therefore have affected South Africa’s global competitiveness. Countries mentioned as having reduced their corporate income tax rates in recent years are the United States of America, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.