A recent World Bank and Price Waterhouse Coopers survey, amongst other things, ranks companies in 190 countries in terms of time taken to prepare and file tax returns. South Africa performs above average against its global peers. We improved by one place from 47th last year to 46th.
The survey has been going since 2004 and one of its main findings is how technology has improved the time taken for companies to complete all tax returns – this includes all taxes such as Income Tax, Workman’s Compensation, VAT, PAYE etc.
In 2016, the average time taken improved by 5 hours to 240 hours – South Africa takes 210 hours. In another measurement on the average number of payments companies make per year, the average is 24 payments whereas in South Africa the number is 14.
In terms of other measurements such as time taken for a VAT refund, we perform close to the average. It takes 26.5 weeks to get a VAT refund locally against 27.8 weeks globally.
A recommendation and a warning
In terms of tax audits we lag behind the rest of the world. One recommendation by the survey is that countries follow the example set by Mexico which analyses data in real time, making it faster to complete the audit process.
One warning from the survey is that new taxes are being globally introduced to widen the collection net and these could increase the time taken to file returns. In South Africa where carbon and sugar taxes will bring more complexity and administration time to business, one hopes that the final legislation will be simplified as much as possible.
Still for all the frustrations we experience, South Africa appears to not be doing too badly.