Ten fun ways to spend a tax refund


Port Elizabeth - Most South African taxpayers have either filed their tax returns by now or are busy getting all the bits of paper ready to do it within the next few weeks.

The optimists at Fin24 hope that everybody will get a tax refund of at least a few thousand rands after a long year of seeing a big chunk of their salaries finding its way to National Treasury, to be spent on necessities such as a fire pool and executive salaries for government employees who mislaid their qualifications.

The responsible thing to do with your tax refund would be to repay some debt. Or add it to the savings account to send the kids to university.

But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl. Even the SA Revenue Service (Sars) has a sense of humour and posted a few funny and quirky facts about tax on their website. For instance, says Sars, a tax collector started a whole new dog breed decades ago when Louis Doberman bred himself a vicious dog to protect him on his travels (probably against his “customers”).

And Sars points out that income tax just turned 100 years old in SA. The Income Tax Act was first promulgated in SA on July 20 1914. At the time, income tax was levied at a sixpence on income of one pound – equal to a tax rate of 2.5%.

Maybe it is time to celebrate 100 years of paying tax and use our tax refunds to buy ourselves a few cool gifts. Here are ten ideas to rejuvenate your spirits and make paying tax for the next 100 years a bit more enjoyable:

Pamper yourself

Have an expensive spa treatment at a place you are way too responsible to frequent. Splash out on an all-day treatment of healthy breakfast, massage and sauna. Do a healthy lunch and spend the afternoon on scrubs and facials, and have the toes and fingers done.

End with a glass of champagne (without telling the beauty therapist!). This will set you back anything from R600 for a quick treatment to R8 000 for a luxury day.

Go fly

Book a flip in a helicopter, aeroplane or glider. The pilot would most probably let you take the controls for a while to experience flying for yourself. Costs vary according to what you fly and how long you want to stay in the air.

Helicopters run through a lot of very expensive aviation fuel and a decent trip for you and the family could run up R10 000 or R20 000. Or go bungee jumping for around R1 000, for a very fast adrenaline boost.

Experience the joy of fresh air on your face with a tandem paragliding flight or strap onto an experienced skydiver and jump out of an aeroplane at around 4 000 feet. This will cost about R800. A word of caution is justified: flying is extremely addictive and you might spend more money in the air than you intended to over the next few months.

Start reading

Stop being scared of technology and go and buy that Kindle you have been looking at for the last few months. It will save you lots of money over the long term as e-books are getting cheaper and real books are (sadly) getting way too expensive.

A Kindle or similar device will cost around R1 600 and a 3G tablet all the way up to R10 000.

Romantic weekend for two

Leave the kids (if any) with Granny for the weekend and get in the car. South Africans are the luckiest people on earth: drive 200km in any direction and end up somewhere in a beautiful spot with a luxurious guesthouse or secluded camping grounds.

Watch the sunset, have a glass of wine and walk hand-in-hand to the dinner table. Remember, the tax refund was your money all along.

Go buy a bicycle

Bicycling seems to be getting more popular by the day and bicycles are getting more sophisticated and sexier every week. A good entry level mountain bike sells for about R4 000 to R5 000 nowadays, which includes such goodies as disc brakes and shiny paint.

Add another few hundred for a water bottle and holder, and definitely a little cycling computer to tell you how far and how fast you are going. The entertainment value will be several times whatever amount you spend on a bike, even if you opt for one of the higher end models of around R80 000 (off the shelf).

Alternatively, take your tax refund and buy running shoes (R1 000 to R3 000) or join a gym (several thousand per annum). A few hundred bucks will buy tennis or squash gear and entrance to the local club.

Music and art

Stop buying music DVDs and downloading tracks from internet stores. Get a guitar, violin or piano and take some music lessons. A cheap guitar will set you back less than R1 000 – or turn up the volume with an electric guitar.

Digital pianos start at around R8 000 or shop around for a (beautiful) acoustic baby grand for just over R100 000.

Art supplies for painting, sculpture and pottery are readily available to relax you until next year’s tax filing season.

Old style dinner

Spend decent money and invite your friend for a proper old style dinner instead of the modern bring-and-braai. Buy decent wine, first grade meat and set the table with a real tablecloth and fancy glasses. Dress up and eat the R5 000 tax refund, or R10 000 if you want.

Buy a few shares

Last, but not least, buy a few shares in your favourite company. Opt to receive a hard copy of their annual report and read it like a story book every year. Reports from Remgro, Naspers, Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Richemont and SABMiller make for good reading. Then there are also the yearly dividends, bothering your stock broker weekly and boring your friends with updates of your portfolio.

 - Fin24

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