Tag Archives: Expenditure

Deductibility of SED and ED expenditure

The South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) recently issued a binding private ruling (“BPR”) in which the income tax consequences of expenditure in respect of socio-economic development (“SED”) and enterprise development (“ED”) obligations were considered.

The applicant in this case is a company that owns and operates a wind farm that generates electricity. In terms of the applicant’s electricity generation agreement and licence entered into with the South African government and the relevant regulator, it must commit a specified percentage of its annual revenue to SED and ED expenditure. Failure to incur these expenses could result in the electricity generation agreement being terminated. In order to meet these obligations, the applicant established a trust to undertake specific SED and ED projects directly, or to provide funding to other organisations that are approved by SARS as public benefit organisations in terms of section 30(3) which will undertake such projects. The applicant made contributions to this trust to fund its SED and ED projects.

Expenditure and losses will qualify for the general income tax deduction in section 11(a) and read with section 23(g) of the Income Tax Act to the extent that it is actually incurred in the production of the income, laid out or expensed for purposes of the taxpayer’s trade and such expenditure and losses are not of a capital nature. It is furthermore important to note that a donation for Donations Tax purposes include any gratuitous disposal of property including any gratuitous waiver or renunciation of a right (section 55(1) of the Income Tax Act). Any disposal of property for a consideration which, in the opinion of the Commissioner for SARS, is not an adequate consideration, is also deemed to be a donation (section 58 of the Income Tax Act).

Based on the facts set out above, SARS confirmed in the ruling that the contributions to the trust by the applicant in respect of the SED and ED commitments will be deductible under section 11(a) read with section 23(g). The income tax deduction in each year of assessment will be equal to the specified percentage of the applicant’s revenue (as defined in the agreement) earned in that year of assessment. The ruling also states that the contributions to the trust will not be a donation as defined in section 55(1) nor a deemed donation, as contemplated in section 58.

While binding private rulings are not binding on other taxpayers, it does however clarify how SARS would interpret and apply the provisions of the tax laws relating to a specific proposed transaction.

The take away is that taxpayers should consider the potential income tax deductibility of SED and ED expenses carefully, especially in instances where they are obliged in terms of an agreement to incur these costs.

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)

Home office expenditure

With current day realities manifesting in ever increasing distances required to be travelled to get to an office, traffic congestion, etc. more and more employers are opting to give their employees the option of working from home. The proliferation of “home offices” has surfaced in dramatic fashion in recent times. It is therefore only natural that we have been experiencing an increased number of queries related to whether expenditure linked to home offices are tax deductible. With home office expenditure, we refer here specifically to those costs linked to occupying a specific space in a home for purposes of earning an income. This includes typically rent, interest paid on a bond, repairs, maintenance and other related costs.Limitations to deductions for tax purposes in relation to home office expenditure is specifically dealt with by section 23(b) of the Income Tax Act, 58 of 1962. In essence it determines that home office expenditure is not deductible save in very strict circumstances, being:

  • where the part of the home used is used exclusively and regularly used for purposes of the taxpayer’s trade; and
  • on condition that the space so used must also have been specifically equipped for this purpose.

Home office expenditure will moreover not be deductible where the trade exercised involves employment or the holding of an office (such as a director for example), unless either:

  • the income earned is in the form of commission or any similar type of variable payment, and on condition that the duties of employment or office held are performed primarily outside of an office environment provided by an employer; or
  • the employment/office duties viewed holistically are mainly performed in the designated part of the home.

If either of the above two exceptions are met, home office expenditure will be deductible irrespective thereof that the taxpayer is an employee or the holder of a specific office. It is noted that section 23(m)(iv) in this regard also does not operate to limit deductions of home office expenditure more than is already the case in terms of section 23(b). (Section 23(m) ordinarily operates as the onerous provision severely limiting the tax deductions available to salaried individuals.)

As a final comment it should be pointed out that the above tests linked to whether home office expenditure is deductible or not all involves objective tests. SARS is also known to be extremely strict in its application of section 23(b). The Tax Administration Act, 28 of 2011, by virtue of section 102 provides that the burden of proof for showing that a deduction should be allowed rests on the taxpayer. SARS is therefore under no obligation to disprove any of the requirements necessary to qualify for home office expenditure. Rather, the taxpayer should be able to show that the space in question is exclusively and regularly used for business purposes and that it has been specifically equipped therefor. It should further illustrate that income earned comprises mainly a variable form of compensation and that no other space is available to the taxpayer, or that the services are performed mainly from the designated space at home.

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)