Original Research

Addressing the small business tax compliance burden: Evidence from South Africa

Sharon Smulders, Gelishan Naidoo
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 6, No 2 | a260 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v6i2.260 | © 2018 Sharon Smulders, Gelishan Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 June 2018 | Published: 31 July 2013

About the author(s)

Sharon Smulders, Department of Taxation, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Gelishan Naidoo, Department of Taxation, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Abstract

Small businesses have the potential to grow the economy, generate jobs and reduce poverty, but they face many constraints including high tax compliance costs and burdens. A comparison of the findings and recommendations made in small business tax compliance cost studies conducted in South Africa with initiatives introduced by the South African Revenue Service (SARS), substantiated by consultations with a SARS and a South African Institute of Chartered Accountants official, reveals that SARS has, in most cases, attempted to address the tax compliance burdens identified in these studies. However, SARS has only partially addressed the complexity of the tax law, the lack of software to assist small businesses with their record-keeping and the compliance burden associated with provisional tax. SARS has failed to address the need for a threshold below which no small business tax return is required to be submitted, the inclusion of tax in the school syllabus, the requirement for first-time offenders to attend courses instead of raising penalties and the need for a reduction in the rates of interest and penalties raised by SARS. These initiatives should be considered by SARS and it is recommended that further research into the success and effectiveness of all the initiatives already introduced by SARS be performed.

Keywords

small business; South African Revenue Service (SARS); tax compliance burden; tax compliance costs; tax initiatives

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