Debt shock: South Africans owe govt R180bn

2015-03-14 22:26
(File: Sars)

(File: Sars)

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Johannesburg - South Africans owe government institutions like the South African Revenue Service (Sars), municipalities and traffic authorities a staggering R180bn in overdue taxes, municipal accounts and traffic fines, according to an investigation by Rapport’s Pieter-Louis Myburgh.

While this figure continues to grow and South Africans fall further behind in these debts, municipalities and Sars are writing off more and more bad debt each year.

Rapport's investigation, based on studies from the Treasury, the financial statements of about 20 of the largest metros and municipalities, Sars annual reports and the latest information on outstanding traffic fines, shows South Africans' overdue debt to the government has drastically increased in the last four years.

In some instances, the rate of payment for traffic fines is as low as 20%.

The investigation, which is published in full in Sunday’s Rapport, also showed:

- Overdue debt owed to municipalities stood at a massive R94bn at the end of 2013-2014. Households, which account for R58bn of this amount, are falling deeper and deeper into debt arrears.

In 2010-2011, 77% of their debts to municipalities were more than 90 days in arrears. By 2013-2014, 80% of their debts were overdue by more than 90 days.

- Municipalities and Sars are writing off increasing amounts of bad debt. About 20 municipalities, including the country's eight metros, wrote off R3.2bn of bad debt in 2012-2013. Only a year later (2013-2014), the figure had risen by 32% to R4.3bn.

The amount of bad debt written off by Sars more than doubled in only four years and stood at R15bn in 2013-2014.

- In Cape Town, Johannesburg, eThekwini (Durban) and Ekurhuleni alone motorists now owe more than R5bn in overdue traffic fines.

The rate of payment of traffic fines in Cape Town had fallen to a dismal 20% in 2013-2014 while the other metro's also experienced very low rates of payment.

- Read the full story in Sunday’s Rapport

Read more on:    sars  |  economy

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