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SA expats unite against proposed tax changes

Kirsten Hastings, writing for International Adviser notes that Expats working overseas have formed a Facebook group to stay abreast of developments on Treasury’s investigation into possibly taxing them.

South Africans working in countries with no income tax, such as the UAE, have banded together on social media to oppose new legislation that “might put them at an unfair disadvantage” of having to pay income tax in South Africa.

The South African Expatriate Tax Petition Group was founded to advance the interests of expats earning income outside of their home country who might become liable to pay tax in South Africa under new proposals.

The tax petition group’s Facebook page, which is invite only, was created on 6 March and, as of Monday, has attracted more than 3,600 concerned members from around the world.

Double non-taxation

Currently, if a South African works in a foreign country for more than 183 days a year, any employment income earned in that country is exempt from tax, subject to certain conditions.

In the February Budget, however, this double non-taxation was deemed “excessively generous” by the South African Treasury.

If the proposed changes are approved, it will mean that foreign employment income will only be exempt from taxation in South Africa if it is taxed in the country where it is earned.

South Africans working in countries with no income tax, such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the Cayman Islands, and Bahrain, will be the most impacted by the change.

Social media campaign

The founder of the campaign, Barry Pretorius, wrote: “The group will focus on informing expatriates on developments in the promulgation of this legislation and provide a forum for expatriates to act as a uniform front to oppose legislation which might put them at an unfair disadvantage.”

This article first appeared in International Adviser on 20 March 2017.

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