Tax Guide for Small Businesses in South Africa

By | April 28, 2023

As a small business owner, it is always important to understand the tax system in your country and your obligations to avoid penalties and legal consequences. 

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about taxes for small businesses in South Africa, including registration, tax types, deductions, and record-keeping.

Registering for Tax

All small businesses in South Africa must register for tax with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) within 21 days of starting operations. 

You can register online via eFiling or in-person at a SARS branch. During the registration process, you will be asked to provide your business details, such as your business name, registration number, and contact information.

Tax Types for Small Businesses

Small businesses in South Africa are subject to different tax types, depending on the nature of their business and the industry they operate in.

Value-Added Tax (VAT)

If your small business has an annual turnover of R1 million or more, you must register for VAT. VAT is a consumption tax that’s added to the price of goods and services. 

You will be required to charge VAT to your customers, collect it, and pay it to SARS. You can also claim back the VAT paid on your business expenses.

Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

If you have employees, you will be required to register for PAYE. PAYE is a tax deducted from employees’ salaries and paid to SARS on their behalf. 

You will need to register as an employer, issue IRP5 certificates to your employees, and submit monthly returns to SARS.

Provisional Tax

If you are a sole proprietor or in a partnership, you may be required to pay provisional tax. Provisional tax is a way of paying your income tax in advance, in two installments during the tax year. 

This is to ensure that you don’t have to pay a large lump sum at the end of the tax year.

Deductions for Small Businesses

There are several deductions that small businesses in South Africa can claim to reduce their tax liability.

Business Expenses

You can deduct any expenses incurred in the production of your business income, such as rent, utilities, salaries, and marketing costs.

Capital Allowances

Capital allowances are deductions for the wear and tear of assets used in your business, such as machinery, vehicles, and equipment. 

You can claim capital allowances for the cost of acquiring or improving these assets.


Donations made to a registered public benefit organization (PBO) can allow you to claim a tax deduction of up to 10% of your taxable income.

Bad Debts

If you have written off any bad debts owed to your business, you can claim a deduction for the amount written off.

Record-Keeping for Small Businesses

Small businesses in South Africa are required to keep accurate records of their income and expenses. This includes invoices, receipts, bank statements, and financial statements. 

You should also keep a record of any assets acquired or disposed of during the tax year.

Understanding the tax system is crucial to avoid penalties and legal consequences. 

By registering for tax, knowing the different tax types, claiming deductions, and keeping accurate records, you can reduce your tax liability and ensure compliance with SARS regulations. 

By following the guidelines outlined in this tax guide for small businesses in South Africa, you can manage your business finances more effectively and focus on growing your business.

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