Below, please find issue 110 of ENSafrica's tax in brief, a snapshot of the latest tax developments in South Africa.

case law

  • Constitutional Court ("CC") | Sasol Chevron Holdings Limited CSARS (CCT 149/22) [2023] ZACC 30
    • The CC considered the interpretation of section 7(1) of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 ("PAJA") and the procedure for granting value-added tax ("VAT") refunds to qualifying purchasers responsible for exporting goods from South Africa in terms of the regulations issued in terms of section 74(1) read with paragraph (d) of the definition of "exported" in section 1(1) of the Value-Added Tax Act 89 of 1991 ("VAT Act").
    • The court held that the 180-day period in section 7(1) of the PAJA begins to run on the date on which the reasons for the administrative action become known or ought reasonably to have become known to the party seeking its judicial review. This finding was dispositive of the matter in light of the facts before the court, and it was, therefore, unnecessary for the court to adjudicate the remaining issues of the appeal.
    • Find a copy of the judgment here.
  • CC | Nu Africa Duty-Free Shops (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Finance and Others; CSARS v Ambassador Duty-Free (Pty) Ltd and Others; Minister of Finance v Ambassador Duty-Free (Pty) Ltd and Others (CCT 29/22; CCT 57/22; CCT 58/22) [2023] ZACC 31
    • The CC considered whether section 75(15)(a)(i)(bb) of the Customs and Excise Act 91 of 1964 ("Customs and Excise Act") and section 74(3)(a) of the VAT Act, as well as certain amendments to Schedule 4 and 6 of the Customs and Excise Act and to Schedule 1 of the VAT Act are unconstitutional and invalid to the extent that they constitute an impermissible delegation of plenary power to the Minister of Finance ("Minister").
    • The court held that it is not unconstitutional for an Act of Parliament to empower a member of the Executive to amend a Schedule to an Act of Parliament. As such, the High Court's orders setting aside the amendments made by the Minister to Schedules 4 and 6 of the Customs and Excise Act and Schedule 1 of the VAT Act were set aside.
    • Find a copy of the judgment here.
  • Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa ("SCA") | Silverback Technologies CC & Others v CSARS (301/2022) [2023] ZASCA 128 (09 October 2023)
    • The SCA had to determine whether the high court was correct in confirming the determination by the South African Revenue Service ("SARS") that certain goods were liable for import duty.
    • The appeal revolved around the classification of imported bicycle parts destined for assembly and the related customs duty payable on such imports. Liability for customs duty attached to imported components if they bore the essential characteristics of a bicycle, as alleged by SARS. In order to determine whether the imported goods attracted import duties, the SCA considered which of the two relevant tariff headings, namely, 8712.00.10 or 8714.9, applied.
    • The SCA held that the wording of tariff heading 8712.00, as well as the interpretive notes, were clear and unambiguous with regard to an incomplete or unfinished vehicle, namely a bicycle. The tariff heading, as well as the explanatory notes, did not refer to a collection of parts constituting a bicycle but to parts that have the 'essential character' of a bicycle.
    • The SCA dismissed the appeal.
    • Find a copy of the judgment here.

tax rulings

  • VAT | Draft Binding General Ruling 16 (Issue 3) – Standard Turnover-based Method of Apportionment – Published for comment
    • Find a copy of Draft Binding General Ruling 16 (Issue 3) here.
    • Due date for comments: 3 November 2023.

SARS publications

  • Interpretation Note 51 (Issue 6) | Pre-trade expenditure and losses
    • The interpretation note provides guidance on the deduction of pre-trade expenses (sometimes also called start-up costs) under section 11A of the Income Tax Act, No. 58 of 1962 ("ITA").
    • Find the interpretation note here.
  • Basic Guide to Section 18A Approval (Issue 5)
    • This guide has been prepared to assist organisations in understanding the basic requirements for obtaining and retaining approval under section 18A of the ITA.
    • Find the guide here.
  • Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises ("SMME") | Connect
    • The SMME Connect (6 ed) can be found here.
    • This edition focuses on strategic objectives to provide clarity and certainty for taxpayers to comply with their tax obligations, and to use data to enhance integrity, derive insights, and improve outcomes.
  • SMME Traders | Connect
    • The SMME Traders Connect Newsletter (ed 2) can be found here.
    • This edition focuses on the Customs Administered Incentives which may benefit the SMME Traders.
  • Guide on the Taxation of Farming Operations
    • A new Guide on the Taxation of Farming Operations was published.
    • Find a copy here.
  • Monthly payroll information submission
    • SARS has published the BRS: PAYE Monthly Payroll Submission which defines the requirements employers must adhere to for the monthly payroll data submissions.
    • The BRS: PAYE Monthly Payroll Submission can be found here.
  • VAT 409 | Guide for Fixed Property and Construction for Vendors (Issue 7)
    • This guide is a general guide concerning the application of the VAT Act in connection with fixed property and construction transactions in South Africa.
    • The guide can be found here.
  • Trade statistics for August 2023
    • SARS published a media release stating that South Africa recorded a preliminary trade balance surplus of R13.3 billion in August 2023. This surplus is attributable to exports of R181.3 billion and imports of R168.0 billion.
    • Find the media release here.
  • Media release | Inter-governmental search and seizure operation
    • An inter-governmental search and seizure operation across five provinces was carried out on 12 October 2023 into a sophisticated criminal syndicate of alleged coal-smugglers, who played a major role in exacerbating the energy crisis and loadshedding.
    • Find more information here.

customs and excise


  • The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development ("OECD") | International community adopts multilateral convention to facilitate implementation of the global minimum tax Subject to Tax Rule
    • The OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS has concluded negotiations on a multilateral instrument that will protect the right of developing countries to ensure multinational enterprises pay a minimum level of tax on a broad range of cross-border intra-group payments, including for services.
    • Find more information here.
  • OECD | OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework releases new multilateral convention to address tax challenges of globalisation and digitalisation
    • The OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting has released the text of a new multilateral convention that updates the international tax framework to co-ordinate a reallocation of taxing rights to market jurisdictions, improve tax certainty, and remove digital service taxes.
    • Find more information here.
  • OECD | New report reflects on the OECD's cooperation with Africa on tax matters
    • Find a copy of the report here.
  • OECD | Heads of tax administrations agree on new collaborative initiatives to shape the future of tax administration and on deepening their co-operation for the implementation of the global minimum tax
    • The OECD's Forum on Tax Administration held its annual Plenary meeting in Singapore from 11-13 October 2023, bringing together tax commissioners and delegates from across the globe, including representatives from international organisations, regional tax administration bodies, business and academia. At the meeting, Commissioners agreed on new areas of collaboration to pave the way for transforming the future of tax administration.
    • Find more information here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.