Managerial accounting: The key to better business

As a manager of an organisation, there is a great responsibility for decision making. The question lies in how a manager can utilise accounting information to make better decisions. Managerial accounting is a common practice within an organisation where accounting information is identified, measured, analysed, interpreted and communicated to relevant parties to pursue a goal.

Accounting information can be analysed in different ways and be used for different purposes. It’s important to identify the type of decision that needs to be made to ensure that the correct accounting information is gathered and analysed for the best decision making.

For instance, an organisation that wants to attract investors will depend mostly on cash flow statements and cash flow forecasts, the income statement and a balance sheet, whereas an organisation that needs to apply for a loan will rather look into certain ratios such as debt to equity and debt to service coverage ratios.

Managerial accounting is mostly used in scenarios where quick decisions need to be made to help managers optimise business operations. Accounting information is used by managers to plan, evaluate the company performance and manage risks. Budgeting is a great part of an organisation and financial reporting can help a manager to set a realistic budget and identify the need for funding. To measure the company’s performance certain ratios can be used such as the liquidity ratio which measures the company’s ability to generate cash to meet the short-term financial commitments, efficiency ratio that mostly relates to the inventory turnover and the profitability ratio can be used to measure the return on assets and net profit margins.

The first step to making an informed decision is to have information that is reliable and up to date, thereafter the accounting information can be utilised in different ways to ultimately form a report that would help management to make better decisions.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Farming operations: Tax implications

Farming in South Africa is like second nature to most South Africans, but the tax implications on farming operations seem to raise some questions when determining a taxpayer’s taxable income. The taxation of farming operations is subject to a unique set of taxation rules. SARS requires that all income and expenses relating to farming operations be separately disclosed so that they can easily assess whether the specific tax rules have been adhered to.

The expression “farming operations”, is not defined in the Income Tax Act and should be interpreted according to its ordinary meaning, which according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products.

Section 26(1) of the Income Tax Act stipulates that the taxable income of any person carrying on pastoral, agricultural or other farming operations shall, in so far as the income is derived from such operations, be determined in accordance with the Act but subject to the First Schedule.

The First Schedule deals with the computation of taxable income derived from pastoral, agricultural or other farming operations. This schedule applies regardless of whether the taxpayer derives an assessed loss or a taxable income from the farming operations.

Furthermore, The First Schedule applies to any person who derives a taxable income from above-mentioned farming operations. The person could be an individual, a deceased estate, an insolvent estate, a company, a close corporation or a trust.

On the other hand, not all activities in farming constitute farming operations. Thus, in order to fall within the First Schedule, a farming operation needs to be the trade of the taxpayer and there must be an overall profit-making intention. If the activities carried out are only for the benefit of the individual, without the prospect of making a profit, the individual will not be carrying on farming operations.

The taxable income that is derived from farming operations is combined with the taxable income from any other sources to arrive at the relevant taxpayer’s taxable income for the applicable year of assessment.  If a loss is created, during the year of assessment, in the production of farming income, this specific loss should be carried over to the next financial year. The loss can only be utilised by income-generating activities that are in the production of farming income.

In conclusion, it is essential to determine the nature of farming activities and whether these activities are farming operations. If so, the First Schedule deals with the calculation of the taxable income.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Usufructs created upon death: what happens now?

A usufruct is a limited real right in property. The usufruct construct takes the form of a common-law personal servitude, which, as a limited real right, grants the holder (the usufructuary) the right to use someone else’s property, including the fruits. Typical examples include where someone is granted the right to use a house, or the right to receive interest on a loan account or dividends on shares. While the right to use the asset is granted to a person, the ownership, or bare dominium of the property, does not transfer to the usufructuary. The usufructuary merely receives the right to the enjoyment of an asset. The use of usufructs has several tax consequences, one of which occurs when a usufruct is created upon death.

A usufruct created under a testament will trigger a part-disposal for capital gains tax (CGT) purposes in the hands of the testator if the usufruct is bequeathed to the surviving spouse while the bare dominium is bequeathed to another person, such as a family trust. In these circumstances, there will be a disposal of the bare dominium to the deceased estate while there will be a roll-over to the surviving spouse.

When the testator directs that a usufruct is to be created upon his or her death and neither the usufruct nor the bare dominium in the asset is bequeathed to a surviving spouse, there will be a disposal of the full ownership in the asset to the deceased estate and the executor will dispose of the usufruct to the usufructuary and the bare dominium to the bare dominium holder.

Usufructs created upon the death of a person (i.e. where someone is granted a usufruct of an asset which the deceased owned) must be valued (to “split” the market value of the total ownership between the usufruct portion and the bare dominium portion). This valuation involves determining the present value of the annual right of use at 12% a year over the expected life of the person receiving the benefit, or when the right of enjoyment is a lesser period, over that lesser period. If the asset subject to the usufructuary interest cannot reasonably be expected to produce an annual yield of 12% on the value of the asset, SARS must decide, on application by the taxpayer; such sum as reasonably represents the annual yield. This could, for example, be the case where a usufructuary is granted the usufruct over a loan account, and 12% interest (in the current economic circumstances at least) cannot be expected to be a fair representation of the annual yield.

On an oversimplified basis, where a usufruct is created upon death, and the bare dominium is bequeathed to a trust, subject to a usufruct by a surviving spouse, the following tax consequences will ensue:

A split of the market value (and base cost) of the property is required, in line with the above valuation. There will be a deemed disposal of the bare dominium in the deceased’s hands at market value at the date of death. Since the usufruct has been left to a spouse, there is a roll-over in respect of that asset.

The tax consequences of a usufruct created upon death are very complex, and advice the correct treatment thereof should be obtained from a specialist in the field.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Employee trusts: How distribution works

Binding Private Ruling 330 (“BPR330”) was issued on 3 October 2019 and relates to the tax implications arising from distributions of dividends and other amounts from an employee trust to beneficiaries on the termination of their employment.

The taxpayer (a resident trust) was established for the benefit of the black permanent employees of Company A. The object of the trust was to invest funds from time to time and to use the return on these investments for the economic, health, educational and emergency benefits of its beneficiaries.

The trust funds to be administered in this regard will include donations made to the trust, any assets the trustees may acquire (not limited to shares), any net revenue capitalised by the trustees in their discretion and any other interest, dividends or accruals in favour of the trust.

The trustees of the trust are entitled to, in their discretion, select one or more of all the employees to allocate or distribute all or part of the trust’s net revenue. These employees will only have a claim against the trust from the date of vesting of the benefit and are not entitled to deal in any way with the respective trust funds or interest in the trust before such date.

It is envisaged that the trustees will, from time to time, vest dividends in the employees that the trust receives from Company A. These dividends will be distributed immediately after it is received by the trust.

The trust deed furthermore provides for the allocation of beneficial units. Employees that hold these units may only dispose of them to the trust. Also, the trust must repurchase the units when the employee ceases to be an employee at a repurchase price determined by the trustees in their discretion.

The proposed transaction that was considered in terms of the BPR was the repurchase of a beneficial unit from a beneficial unitholder on the date the unitholder ceased to be an employee. The repurchase was funded by existing funds and not a specific dividend that was received.

In terms of the BPR, the unitholder received an amount as a beneficiary of the trust by reason of the termination of its employment and confirmed that this amount would be included in the employee’s gross income, in terms of paragraph (d) of the definition of “gross income”, and be subject to employees’ tax as provided for by the Fourth Schedule to the Income Tax Act.[1]

Also, all amounts to be distributed to the beneficiaries will constitute remuneration as defined in the Fourth Schedule and will be subject to employees’ tax.[2]

  • [1] No. 58 of 1962
  • [2] See section 10(1)(k)(i) and the definition of “remuneration” in paragraph 1 of the Fourth Schedule.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

What you need to know about property tax

Investing in a property or buying your dream home is an exciting and rewarding experience. But one of the not-so-exciting, but crucial parts of any property purchase is the calculation and payment of one or more different kinds of tax. It is recommended that buyers receive proper advice on which taxes are payable and how much before the purchase, otherwise buying your dream home or investing in a property can become a very unrewarding and financially crippling experience.

So, what is included in property-related taxes? These taxes include municipal rates and charges for refuse and sewerage. We will discuss these taxes in more detail below:

Municipal rates

Most South African property owners must pay municipal rates, which are based on the market value of the property concerned. The calculation of municipal rates was changed in March 2004, when the Government Municipal Property Rates Bill came into play.

Previously, rural areas were charged a higher percentage than the wealthier areas, seeing as lower-income households effectively subsidised wealthier ones. Now, rates are levied at a common percentage (about 1%) irrespective of the value of the property. However, municipalities may levy different rates for different types of properties such as residential, commercial etc. When it comes to sectional title schemes, rates are applied to the entire scheme and are divided among the individual owners.

So how does it work? Your municipality will send you a valuation notice, which states the official value of your property. Using this valuation notice, subtract the specified “rate-free” amount (around R50 000), then multiply this net figure with the percentage of the municipal rate to calculate the annual amount payable. Divide this by 12 to calculate your monthly payment.

Refuse

Just like municipal rates, refuse charges vary from place to place. For example, in Cape Town, there are two parts to the refuse charge:

The first is calculated by subtracting R50 000 from the valuation of the property (same as with municipal rates) and multiplying the result by 0.038%.

The second part is a charge of R38.60 per month for a 240-litre bin with wheels. If your property is valued at less than R100 000, you pay half of the amount mentioned above, and if your property is valued at less than R50 000, you will receive a bin free of charge.

Sewerage

Just as is the case with refuse charges, sewerage is also commonly charged in two parts:

Firstly, a fixed charge of up to R38.00, depending on the value of your property.

Secondly, a variable charge according to your water consumption. See the table below:

Annual Consumption Charge Per ‘000 Litres
0 – 4,200 litres
4,201 – 14,000 litres R2.04
14,001 – 35,000 litres R3.25

So, to break it down a little, if you consumed 200 000 litres in a year, you would pay R650.00 plus the fixed rate.

Before purchasing a property, make sure to consult an expert in order to determine how much you will have to pay in property taxes, and make sure to bring this into your budget before purchasing.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Your payroll administration questions answered

As payroll administrators ourselves, we encounter a few frequently asked questions that employers, business owners or those responsible for payroll administration within organisations struggle with.  Below we have a detailed answer for you on these burning questions you are facing.  We hope that you find them insightful.

  1. Question: At what stage is an employer required to register for PAYE and UIF with the South African Revenue Service?

Answer: An employer is required to register for PAYE and UIF the moment he/she employs an employee whose salary exceeds the tax threshold.  For the 2020 tax year, this threshold is R 79 000 per annum.

  1. Question: If an employer is already registered with SARS for UIF, does the employer also have to register with the Department of Labour for UIF purposes?

Answer: Yes. Although UIF payments are made to SARS and not to the Department of Labour, UIF Registration with the Department of Labour still needs to be completed and a UI19 form, in which the employer declares the amounts paid over to SARS, must be submitted monthly.  The UI19 form can be submitted via e-mail.

  1. Question: At what stage is an employer required to register for SDL (Skills Development Levy) with SARS?

Answer:  An employer is required to register for SDL as soon as the total gross salaries of the organisation (all employees’ salaries) for any 12-month period exceeds R 500 000. Please note that SDL can only be claimed back for training provided from the relevant SETA to which the organisation belongs when the total salaries exceed R 500 000.

  1. Question: I have submitted my W.As. 8 return to the Department of Labour but didn’t receive my W.As. 6 assessment. Why is this happening?

Answer: In most cases where this happens, we find that the e-mail address of the company is completed incorrectly on the return. For many organisations, this has resulted in significant amounts of interest incurred on these amounts.  The original returns are no longer sent to organisations via post and are only sent via e-mail.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Cryptocurrencies: The new generation’s cash

Background to Bitcoin

Bitcoin, Ether and Litecoin. These are some of the most prominent cryptocurrencies on the market today. Bitcoin is by far the best-known cryptocurrency due to the substantial increase in the price that was experienced in the past couple of years.

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency – a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to control its creation and management, rather than relying on central authorities. Bitcoin was developed by an anonymous creator – Satoshi Nakamoto – to enable society to operate with a digital cash system, without the need for third-party intermediaries which are traditionally required for digital monetary transfers.

Should you wish to read the original paper used to introduce bitcoin to the word, please follow this link:  https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf.

Tax consequences of cryptocurrencies

For the most part, South Africans have only been able to enter the crypto market locally for a short while, which has drawn the attention of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to cryptocurrencies.

SARS released a statement on the 6th of April 2018, declaring its stance regarding the taxation of cryptocurrencies. The following is an extract from the statement:

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) will continue to apply normal income tax rules to cryptocurrencies and will expect affected taxpayers to declare cryptocurrency gains or losses as part of their taxable income.”

The statement further indicates that for purposes of the Income Tax Act, SARS does not deem cryptocurrencies to be a currency (due to the fact that wide adoption has not been reached in South Africa and crypto can’t be used on a daily basis to transact), but rather defines cryptocurrencies as assets of an intangible nature.

The definition has the effect that cryptocurrencies will be treated as any other investment for tax purposes. The onus lies on the taxpayer to declare all cryptocurrency-related taxable income in the tax year which the taxpayer received or accrued.

Should a taxpayer thus trade in bitcoin, the trades will be deemed to be income in nature and the profit and loss on the trades should be included in the taxpayer’s taxable income. However, if the taxpayer holds the bitcoin as a long-term investment (the same way some investors hold a share portfolio for long-term investing), the income derived from the disposal of the bitcoin will be deemed to be capital in nature, resulting in capital gains tax needing to be declared on the disposal.

Conclusion

Whether you are for or against cryptocurrencies, it is evident that cryptocurrencies have formed a part of the modern era and will likely remain relevant. This new form of currency/investment has caused quite a stir at SARS and taxpayers are advised to familiarise themselves with the tax treatment of these currencies to prevent any unexpected tax consequences.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

The different VAT supplies

There are a few instances where VAT is not charged at the standard rate of 15%. In the following newsletter, we distinguished between the different supplies that attract VAT but does not necessarily have the impact of a standard rate supply.

Denied Supplies

The VAT Act provides for certain expenses where input VAT is denied, even if the expense is incurred in the course of conducting an enterprise and if there are no input VAT consequences there will ultimately be no output VAT consequences. The following circumstances are common instances where input VAT will be denied:

  • Acquisitions of a motor vehicle:

When a motor vehicle is purchased by a vendor, who is not a motor car dealer or car rental enterprise, the input VAT on the purchase will be considered a denied supply.

The definition of “motor vehicle” includes all vehicles designed primarily for the purposes of carrying passengers. This definition covers ordinary sedans, hatchbacks, multi-purpose vehicles and double cab bakkies. A single cab bakkie or a bus designed to carry more than 16 persons will qualify for input VAT purposes.  Any repairs and maintenance to vehicles, irrespective of the type of vehicle, will also qualify for the claiming of input VAT, as long as the cost is separately identified and invoiced.

  • Fees and Club Subscriptions:

Input tax in terms of subscriptions/membership fees to sport, social, recreational and private clubs are denied supplies. Input VAT may, however, be deducted on subscriptions to magazines and trade journals which are related in a direct manner to the nature of the enterprise carried on by the vendor.

However, fees for membership of professional bodies and trade organisations paid on behalf of employees are not denied supplies and SARS allows an input VAT to be claimed. Trade unions are exempt in this regard.

In the case of denied supplies, no VAT may be claimed, and no output VAT needs to be declared, thus these supplies don’t need to be declared on your VAT return.

Zero-Rated Supplies

A zero-rated supply is a taxable supply, but VAT is levied at 0%. Vendors who make zero-rated supplies are still able to deduct input tax on goods or services acquired in making of the zero-rated supplies.

Zero-rated supplies include certain basic foodstuffs such as brown bread and maize meal, certain services supplied to non-residents, international transport services, municipal property rates and more.

Although a zero-rate supply is levied at 0%, it is still a taxable supply and should be declared separately on the VAT return.

Deemed Supplies

A vendor may be required to declare an amount of output tax even though they have not actually supplied any goods or services. Deemed supplies will generally attract VAT at either standard rate or zero rate.

Two common examples of deemed supplies at standard rate are trading stock taken out of the business for private use and certain fringe benefits received provided to employees.

The deemed supply will be declared on the VAT return under either your standard rate or zero-rate codes.

Notional input VAT

A VAT vendor may in certain circumstances deduct a notional input VAT credit in respect of secondhand goods acquired from non-vendors where no VAT is actually payable to the supplier.  Second-hand goods exclude animals, certain mineral rights and goods containing gold or consisting solely of gold.

The following requirements must all be met for a notional input credit to be deductible in respect of secondhand goods:

  • Goods must be previously owned and used (as per the second-hand good definition in section 1 of the Act) and
  • Goods must be used to generate taxable supplies and
  • The seller must be a resident non-vendor and
  • Goods must be located in South Africa and
  • There must be no actual VAT levied on the transaction.

It is important to keep all the documentation for all types of supplies for VAT purposes and to have it available as SARS may require it to confirm VAT transactions.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Becoming a Chartered Accountant

The process of becoming a chartered accountant can be a gruelling and challenging part of your life, just ask any chartered accountant out there. Becoming a CA(SA) requires a minimum of four years of studies and three years internship that can be split into six steps:

Admission to university

To get admission to university for charted accountancy requires you to get good marks in mathematics and accounting during your grade 12 school year. This will form the base of your knowledge and, while the actual subject content is not earth-shatteringly useful, the logic and process of thinking are vital. An average of 70% for both these subjects will most likely ensure you get admission to some of the better universities in South Africa.

Degree

Enrol at university for a three-year degree towards becoming a CA(SA). Most commonly known as a B.Com Accounting or B.Com Chartered Accountancy degree. During the third and final year of your degree, you will be required to achieve high enough marks to get admission to CTA (Certificate in the Theory of Accounting), which is also your Honours year. This can sometimes be a struggle seeing as you are required to put in long hours while university life happens.

Honours year

Your CTA year can be done at university or part-time while doing your internship at a SAICA approved training office through UNISA. Some training offices even allow you to complete your degree while completing your internship. This will in some cases require that the trainee do a four-year internship contract and not the normal three-year contract. There are various after-hours part-time support programs to enrol in when doing your CTA and internship together.

Both the degree and CTA are challenging and require a lot of time and effort. Carefully consider whether you will manage to do your studies part-time while working. The pass rate for CTA while working is normally less than 20% per year, however, if you are willing to put in the hard yards, it is attainable.

Internship

After successfully completing your CTA at university, you are now required to complete a three-year internship at a SAICA accredited training office. During these three years, SAICA requires you to show competence in certain technical and soft skills. You will also need to spend a minimum number of hours on core work to show competency in the auditing environment.

Board exams

After completing CTA successfully, you will need to write two board exams and pass both to become a CA(SA). The first board exam is known as the Initial Test of Competence (ITC). You can write this test directly after completing your CTA. The second exam is known as the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). You become eligible to write the APC exam after completing 18 months of your training contract.

CA(SA)

After successfully completing all of the above and your training office assessor signs your training contract, you can register at SAICA as a CA (SA). Once approved, you are a chartered accountant.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Is there tax on gift cards?

The Cape Town Tax Court delivered a judgement on 17 April 2019 on the timing of income tax in relation to gift cards issued by a retailer.[1]

Here, the taxpayer “sold” gift cards to its customers to be redeemed at any of the taxpayer’s stores. The question under consideration was whether the revenue from the “sale” of the gift cards constituted “gross income” for purposes of the Income Tax Act[2] as soon as it was received by the taxpayer, or only when the gift card was redeemed or has expired.

In terms of section 1 of the Income Tax Act,[3] a taxpayer must include in “gross income” all amounts “received by or accrued to or in favour of” that taxpayer. Initially, the taxpayer included all amounts received in respect of the gift cards in the year in which the cards were issued and paid for.

However, the Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”)[4] came into effect with specific provisions on the treatment of gift cards. It stated that any consideration paid by a customer to a supplier for a gift card is the property of the bearer of the card until the supplier redeems it. Also, a supplier may not treat any prepayments in its possession as the property of the supplier.[5]

As from 2013, the taxpayer, therefore, transferred the revenue from the gift cards to a separate bank account until such time as the cards were redeemed or become expired and accounted for these amounts in its financial records as an unredeemed gift card liability.  The taxpayer also did not include these amounts in its “gross income” at the time of the “sale” based on the argument (and irrespective of the CPA provisions) that the money was not received by the taxpayer for its own benefit, but was held for the benefit of the card bearer. Secondly, the effect of the CPA provisions rendered it inconsistent with being “gross income” for income tax purposes.

The Court found that the mere segregation of monies in a separate bank account did not by itself mean that the funds were somehow held “in trust” for the benefit of the cardholders as opposed to the taxpayer. However, the result of the CPA and the treatment of these amounts in order to comply with its requirements was that the taxpayer did not receive such monies for its own benefit until the cards were redeemed. The Court held that these receipts therefore only constituted “gross income” when it was redeemed or had expired.

[1] Reported as A Company vs The South African Revenue Service (IT24510) [2019] ZATC 1 (17 April 2019).

[2] 58 of 1962

[3] See definition of “gross income”

[4] 68 of 2008

[5] See sections 63 and 65 of the CPA

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)