Why do we pay tax?

2012-01-09 00:00

LAST month, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) demanded that I pay an

extra R17 000 in taxes. I resent it deeply given our politicians’ ravenous feeding at the trough and the endless deluge of corruption. Luxurious presidential and ministerial houses, lavish lifestyles, expensive cars, exorbitant salaries and undeserving perks that go with public life have become customary.

Julius Malema epitomises this lifestyle. Never having done an honest day’s work in his life, he owns a farm, is building a mansion for over R6 million in Sandton, and he has a whopping bank balance. Bankrolled by some of the ANC’s elite, his other sources of wealth must surely come from our taxes via the procurement process.

I have written to the Treasury asking it to give me a valid reason why I should pay in this amount given that a sizeable portion of the national budget goes into the private pockets of connected individuals. I need an explanation from the Minister of Finance why I need to comply with this demand.

South Africa is a developing nation and despite an increase in tax collection (R599 billion in 2009/10, an R8,4 billion increase on the previous year), the

government has been everything but prudent with the management of the country’s financial assets. Total tax revenue is made up of personal income tax (R205,2 billion), value-added tax (VAT) (R147,9 billion) and company income tax (R134,9 billion).

In other words, individuals are heavily taxed vis-à-vis companies and vis-à-vis the appalling

services we get in return. In the meantime, the government is

living it up and we are simply failing to keep government consumption at affordable levels.

The widespread abuse of

power, greed, corruption, misappropriation and mismanagement of tax revenues fly in the face of our constitutional obligations which demand accountability, transparency and public scrutiny.

The fights around public office are so vicious because ANC members know that in running the country they have ownership and control of the economy for their own gain.

It is this entitlement that will run South Africa into the ground. Billions wasted on the arms deal, millions on the travel scandal, hundreds of millions on Bheki Cele’s police headquarters, not to speak of the investigation of 20 SABC employees accused of R2,7 billion in tender and procurement rigging, leave us reeling just to comprehend it all.

Then there is the building of 33 police stations to the value of R330 million without following due process and the allegations that police officers were involved in their construction.

The Department of Public Works itself is a nest of vipers and many of its officials have their hands in the cookie jar.

Chapter 13 of the Constitution spells out very clearly the role of the Treasury and its obligation to “ensure both transparency and expenditure control”. The Treasury may also “stop the transfer of funds to an organ of state if that organ of state com- mits a serious or persistent

material breach of those measures”.

The government is in breach of its own Constitution for supporting organs of state that have literally stolen and misappropriated state funds. Instead of an equitable, efficient, and well accounted for tax system meant to achieve economic growth and the development of the poor, the Treasury remains a cash cow for the deployed cadres who will milk it until it is dry.

Throw Them All Out is a book my daughter sent me for Christmas. It details how American politicians and their friends get rich off insider stock tips, land deals, and cronyism that would send the rest of us to prison.

Similarly, our deployed cadres belong in jail. Few would be left to govern.

• This article first appeared in Die Burger.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.