A critical evaluation of proposed methods to collect value-added Tax on electronically supplied services

The boom of the internet economy and the smartphone explosion currently experienced in South Africa is making it increasingly more convenient for South African residents to purchase electronically supplied goods and services from suppliers located all across the globe with the mere click of a button. The increasing number of purchases online is making it almost impossible for the South African Revenue Service to collect the Value-Added Tax on specifically electronically supplied services purchased from foreign suppliers. It is further placing South African suppliers of similar goods and services in a disadvantaged position in respect of pricing when compared to foreign suppliers.

In the 2013 budget speech, the Minister of Finance indicated that the Value-Added Tax implications of the supply of digitised products by foreign suppliers are an area of concern. By July 2013 proposals were contained in the Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill to address this very problem.
The aim of this study is to critically evaluate the proposed methods to collect Value-Added Tax on electronically supplied services, as contained in the Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill through a detailed literature review and critical evaluation.

The literature review focuses on sections 7(1)(c) and 14 of the Value-Added Tax Act, the sections of the Value-Added Tax Act which currently regulates the collection of Value-Added Tax on electronically supplied services, as well as the methods used in the European Union and New Zealand to collect Value-Added Tax and Goods and Services Tax on electronically supplied services.

The critical evaluation of the proposals identifies shortcomings and provides recommendations to overcome the shortcomings to ensure that the proposed changes will address the concerns and align South African legislation with global practices.

The study concludes that, although the proposed changes to the method to collect Value-Added Tax on electronically supplied services are a step in the right direction, there is still work to be done by legislators on the details of the proposals to ensure successful implementation in a South African environment.


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