From all over the globe the inequality between the rich and the poor is a topic that is debated politically and socially. Wealth tax is often mentioned as an easy solution to reduce this inequality effectively. Even in South Africa cries for a wealth tax have been heard following Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s comments that such a tax can help reduce the effect of past injustices.
The imposition of a wealth tax has various advantages and disadvantages that are strongly debated by the proponents and opponents of the tax. The impact of these advantages and disadvantages has however not been measured and quantified up to date. Although the disadvantages seem to outweigh the advantages, it seems that there is some scope for a wealth tax to be politically motivated.
The dawning of the modern era has however changed the landscape for tax policies. Global mobility has resulted in individuals being able to choose where they work, live and invest. Taxes have been proved to be a factor that influences these decisions of individuals on where to live and invest.
It is therefore becoming increasingly important to have tax policies that are competitive in comparison to peer countries. This study focused on determining how competitive South Africa’s tax policies are, relating to wealthy individuals, compared to the equivalent taxes in other African countries with similar sized economies. The study consists of qualitative, non-empirical research performed in the form of a literature review.
The study’s finding is that South Africa has more types of taxes imposed on wealthy individuals than any other of the sampled countries. In addition, the taxes imposed are more often than not substantially higher than the equivalent charged by its peers. This could have a detrimental effect when investors start to realise that they could optimise the resources available to them by choosing not to work and live in South Africa, but would rather select one of its neighbouring countries. Not only will potential new investors be discouraged from investing, but the question also arises at which point South African residents will start to seek their fortune elsewhere. Based on these findings, it seems that there is no scope for imposing yet another wealth tax in South Africa at present.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2014.