Original Research

Black tax: An international exploratory study in the South African context

Riley Carpenter, Malilimalo Phaswana
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 14, No 1 | a612 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v14i1.612 | © 2021 Riley Carpenter, Malilimalo Phaswana | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 August 2020 | Published: 28 January 2021

About the author(s)

Riley Carpenter, College of Accounting, Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Malilimalo Phaswana, College of Accounting, Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

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Orientation: South Africa is a country where the vast majority of residents experience inequality, poverty and deprivation on a daily basis. For many black South Africans, their experience includes the expectation to financially support extended family.

Research purpose: This ‘black tax’ provides the government with an opportunity to redistribute wealth through taxation provisions. The study’s purpose is to consider whether South African taxation legislation currently provides for black tax and if not, to provide suggested improvements.

Motivation for the study: Whilst South Africa already has a social grant system in place, there is a need to account for varying levels of taxpayer responsibility and to encourage less dependence on the government.

Research approach/design and method: Using a doctrinal research methodology, the authors collated relevant legislation and judicial precedents applied in South Africa with respect to supporting extended family and compared these to the taxation systems in the United States of America (USA), Brazil and Nigeria.

Main findings: The findings indicate that the current South African taxation legislation does not provide for supporting extended family, including black tax, and the US dependent exemption or rebate is a potential option for consideration in South Africa.

Practical/managerial implications: Taxpayers should encourage the South African government to develop a discussion document to encourage wider discourse.

Contribution/value-add: The study makes an important contribution to the debate on changing taxation legislation to ensure income and wealth redistribution.


black tax; private transfers; dependent exemption; dependent rebate; wealth tax; redistribution; South Africa


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