6 Legitimate Ways for Small Business Owners in South Africa to Limit Tax

As a small business owner in South Africa, you know that taxes can eat into your profits. However, there are several ways to legally limit your tax liability and keep more of your hard-earned money. In this article, we'll explore 6 legitimate ways for small business owners in South Africa to limit their tax. Please keep in mind that some of these options might expose your personal estate to risk, and it is an important conversation to have with you tax accountant.

Claim all eligible business expenses.
One of the simplest ways to reduce your tax liability is to claim all eligible business expenses as deductions. Keep detailed records of expenses such as rent, office supplies, and equipment and make sure to include them on your tax return. The best way to do this would be to use an accounting program that will suite your needs. We found Sage online accounting the best option for entrepreneurs. I always mention this to anyone that I demo this system, Sage online accounting has been written for the entrepreneur in mind, not necessary the accountant. By keeping your books on an online accounting program like Sage Online Accounting, you can have live balances available for your bank, accounts receivable, accounts payable and inventory.
Fee free to contact us to setup your free 30-day trial account.

Take advantage of tax incentives: The South African government offers various tax incentives to encourage small business growth.

Some of the most important tax incentives to consider and discuss with your accountant are listed below:

  • Investing in renewable energy. Currently you can claim an allowance of 125% of the initial costs towards a renewal system. This effectively means a tax saving of 27% on 125% of the initial amount spend.
  • Exploring the possibilities of small business corporation status. This can save your company up to roughly R 95,000 for the year.
  • Making sure your payroll administrator optimizes the use for Employment Tax Incentives (ETI). This on its own is own of the biggest tax hacks for small business owners.

These are very important points to discuss with your accountant.

Consider forming a company. Forming a company can potentially lower your tax rate IF you keep capital in the business. This can be accurately done by working with your accountant.
Taking out money as a director up to an effective income tax rate of 27% or the small business corporation rate (if applicable) in your personal capacity and keep the rest in your company.
Keep in mind that the funds you take out will be taxed according to the PAYE tax tables.


Use a tax-free savings account for annual savings up to R 36,000 and a lifetime of R 500,000. If you have any surplus funds, consider investing them in a tax-free savings account up to R 36,000 per annum and R 500,000 over your lifetime. This will allow you to earn interest and capital growth without paying income tax.

Plan for capital gains tax.
If you plan to sell assets that have appreciated in value, such as property or shares, consider timing the sale to minimize your capital gains tax liability.
Consider keeping your primary residence in your personal capacity to make use of the capital gains rebate of R 2 million. This is ONLY applicable if the primary residence is in your personal name. It may not be in a Trust or a company.

Invest in retirement plans
I am not the biggest fan of retirement annuity or similar products but is does have its place for certain individuals. Contributing to a retirement plan, such as a pension fund or retirement annuity, can reduce your taxable income and lower your tax liability. You may contribute up to 27.50% of your personal taxable income per annum, to a maximum of R 350,000.
These amounts can be paid monthly or as a once off payment. We generally have these discussions with clients in the provisional tax months of August and February, where we can make informed decisions of the once off amounts clients can pay to limit their tax liability.

In conclusion, there are several legitimate ways for small business owners in South Africa to reduce their tax burden. By taking advantage of tax deductions, utilizing tax credits, structuring their business in a tax-efficient manner, and staying up to date with the latest tax laws and regulations, small business owners can maximize their profits and minimize their tax liability. Additionally, working with a qualified accountant or tax professional can provide invaluable guidance and support in navigating the complex world of taxation. By implementing these strategies and seeking expert advice, small business owners can take control of their finances and build a successful and sustainable business.

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