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South Africans living in the UAE (Dubai) or Qatar (Doha) not paying South African tax on their foreign earned salary, in most cases will remain tax resident in SA.
The 183/+60-day rule only speaks to the (partial) exemption of remuneration from employment. South Africans will continue to pay SA tax on worldwide income from all other income, including most retirement fund income albeit that the retirement fund is foreign based. Immigrant South African may enjoy some limited tax exemption on foreign pension, yet the SA retirement funds will indeed pay SA taxable retirement benefits, albeit that contributions were made from tax exempt foreign employment income.
Immigrants must therefore distinguish between retirement funds accumulated before they arrive in SA, funds transferred from a foreign fund to a SA fund (QROPS to Living Annuity in SA) and funds contributed since they arrived in SA.
Because of the 2021 tax year changes (effective as of 1 March 2020 [#Tax2020], SA expats (being tax resident in SA, albeit that they are) residing and working in say UAE, Germany, USA and most other countries, will no longer enjoy full tax exemption on all their foreign sourced salary.
In fact, as of 1 March 2020, the taxpayer’s tax exemption will be capped at R1m per tax year.
This aligns the SA system with that of the USA yet we are not taxed based on nationality (as in the USA) but on tax residency status. SA tax residents can therefore tax emigrate (#taxmigration) unlike USA taxpayer that remain IRS tax filers on worldwide income, despite living in SA.
The USA exempts foreign earned income to a specific monetary value, which is adjusted upwards annually. Will SARS increase the R1m cap annually? Perhaps this where the Tax Petition Group need to focus on?
One is also extremely concerned about the misleading articles carried by news agencies! Even the News24 articles stating that “When one “emigrates financially”, however, they cease to be a South African tax resident and will not be liable to pay any South African tax on their worldwide income. ” is so far removed from the truth!
What is required is to tax emigrate and formal or financial emigration are not directly link and neither does the one guarantee the other.
Many expats now rush to tax emigrate from South Africa, all in an attempt to save the SA tax on the foreign income. In doing so the taxpayers may indeed trigger capital gains taxes on the tax exit placed on record, so late in the relocation process.
The unpaid exit charges may call for a VDP process! Need some guidance? Feel free to contact us
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24 Jan 2019