(South Africa)


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Legislation - VAT

Every now and then it becomes necessary (although many will disagree with the necessity) for our Government to introduce new legislation that affects small businesses in South Africa. This page will feature these pieces of law and will discuss the practical implications, together with possible discussions from legal experts should the need arise. We also cover existing laws that could affect the small business owner - as a type of refresher course. We recommend that you subscribe to our newsletter so that you don't miss out on any of this free advice.


Tax can be a complicated subject with many exceptions to many rules.  This article is a general guide to give you an introduction on how it works for most (but NOT all) companies.  Please refer to the VAT act at for details.

VAT stands for Value Added Tax and is a tax that most companies need to collect on behalf of the South African Revenue Service (SARS). Lets start with some definitions:


Output VAT: This is the VAT that you charge all of your customers in any month.  If you add up all the VAT amounts on all your invoices for the month you will get your total Output VAT.

Input VAT: This is the VAT that all your suppliers charge you in any month.  If you add up all the VAT amounts on all the invoices that your suppliers have given you, that will give you your total Input VAT

VAT payable: This is output VAT less input VAT and is the amount that need to be paid to SARS.

When and how to pay  

Normally every two months, you will need to get the total Output VAT for the two months and from that subtract the two month total of Input VAT. This amount is what you need to pay over to SARS by the 25th of the following month.  Don't delay payments, the penalties and hassles are just not worth it.  In any event, you are simply collecting the tax on the governments behalf, the money was never yours.  If you had been including it in you sales or your costing, you've been making some accounting errors.

SARS have gone the extra mile with their "efiling" program.  This means that you can fill out the VAT form and transfer the funds from your PC via the internet.  There are no queues or long distances to travel. You are also able to pay a few days later than the manual submission process allows. Take a look at the SARS website for more information.

Who must register

You only have to register for VAT if you turnover exceeds or is likely to exceed R300'000 in any one year.  However you can voluntarily register as long as your turnover has already exceeded R20'000 in the current year. You cannot charge VAT unless you are registered to do so with SARS. You can register by completing some forms at your local SARS office or you can find the forms and procedure on their website.

Some new issues

Early in 2005 it became mandatory for all VAT invoices to show both the customer's and supplier's VAT number on the tax invoice if the amount on the invoice is greater than R1000.

The SARS VAT newsletter recently highlighted that perks supplied to staff should be generating output VAT. This is one of the more intricate aspects of VAT legislation and we suggest you view the SARS website for more details.

You should now have the basics, so VAT is not as terrifying as before and you at least know the minimum requirements.

For more information

The SARS website has vast amounts of information.

Contact us at if you would like to receive free copies of detailed VAT guides provided by SARS.

The subject matter dealt with on this site is of a general nature only. It is always advisable to consult a professional for your specific situation. All information provided on this site has been carefully chosen and is to the best of our knowledge correct and current. If however you find errors, broken links or disagree with facts provided, please contact us at so that we can make the correction and provide South African business owners with relevant and error free factual information. If you believe there is relevant content missing and you wish to add this value to the site, then you can contact us at the same address

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