Give us a (tax) break!

2014-02-02 14:00

Times are tough. And thanks to this week’s increase in the repo rate by SA Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus, they’re getting tougher.

If you’re reading this column, you’re probably part of the middle class, like most City Press readers. The same financially squeezed middle class who have been told to tighten their belts so often they can barely breathe.

We have to fork out for annual double-digit percentage increases in school fees, electricity bills, municipal rates and medical aid contributions. But those who impose them on us spare little thought to the fact that since the global economic crisis hit in 2008, our salaries have barely kept pace with inflation.

We also pay the most tax, but derive little benefit from our contributions. Arguably, the only thing government has done for the middle class in the past 20 years is build the Gautrain – and possibly the bus rapid transit systems for those who use it.

We pay through our noses to send our children to decent doctors, to former Model?C schools and for private security to keep them safe because many of the state’s services are so poor.

Government has continued to treat us like ATMs with the imposition of e-tolling, which is driving consumers further into debt.

TransUnion’s SA Consumer Credit Index, which was released this week, shows that since 2010, consumers have been unable to reduce debt on their credit cards.

Shortly after customers make their minimum payments each month, they spend it again, it revealed. Defaults on loans have also continued to rise, and are 8% up from last year off an already high base.

This week, City Press profiles three middle class families who are battling to make ends meet. They speak of the ever-escalating cost

of groceries and spikes in tuition fees, and also expressed feelings of hopelessness that there would ever be a time when they would not have to count every penny.

Please, Minister Pravin Gordhan, give us a (tax) break! It’s only a matter of time before we, the geese who lay the golden eggs, are metaphorically killed by a government that appears to believe we are an endless supply of money.

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