VAT Amendments – South African Budget 2018


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On Budget Day, 21st February 2018, the South African Minister for Finance released updated draft regulations in relation to VAT levied on electronic services provided by foreign businesses.  The aim is to extend the definition of “electronic services” to include “any service supplied by means of an electronic agent, electronic communication or the internet…”


If enacted, the amended draft regulations could result in a significant overhaul of the VAT treatment electronic services.


In 2014 Section 89 of the Value Added Tax Act 1991 was amended.  From 1st June 2014 on-wards the definition of “enterprise” was to include in the supply of electronic services provided by foreign suppliers to recipients within South Africa. As a result, non-resident suppliers of these services were required to register for VAT where their supplies exceeded the threshold amount of R50 000 in a twelve month period.


The amendments proposed in this Budget, which should take effect from 1st October 2018, include the following:

  • Repealing the current Regulation – This would allow for the deletion of the specific types of services currently outlined as “electronic services” and
  • Revising the definition of “electronic services” to effectively include any type of service supplied electronically with the exception of telecommunication services and educational services provided by a person who is regulated by an educational authority in a foreign jurisdiction.


This new definition will bring into the South African VAT regime; foreign suppliers whose services were previously outside its scope including online advertising, broadcasting, cloud computing, access to databases and information systems, etc.


The VAT Act does not, however, distinguish between Business to Business (B2B) supplies and supplies made directly to South African consumers (B2C). This will have a significant impact on the tax compliance burden for foreign suppliers who supply services electronically into South Africa as well as for the South African Revenue Service.


Amendments have been proposed for intermediaries and platforms to be allowed to register as vendors.  This will enable them to account for the VAT arising on sales made through such platforms providing the platform or intermediary facilitates the supply and assumes responsibility for the issuing of invoices and collection of the associated payments.


The National Treasury has allowed until 22nd March to provide comments.  Following which, if the proposed amendments are enacted they will become effective from 1st October 2018.

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