Pay, Partners and Tax
Why is tax important?
Income tax is the government's main source of income and is carried out in terms of the Income Tax Act, 1962.
How much does South Africa receive in tax?
South African Tax Revenue has increased from R100 billion in 1994 to R742.7 billion in 2011-12.
How is this collected?
Through many sources, such as Value Added Tax (VAT), estate duties, air passenger tax, and more. But as employers and employees, what is most relevant is:
- Those who work a full-time, regular job with remuneration have a PAYE (Pay As You Earn) figure deducted from their salaries.
- Any person who receives income other than remuneration is a provisional taxpayer. For example, if you are getting income such as rental income from a property, interest income from investments or other income from the carrying on of any trade, you need to pay on these.
Those who earn under a certain amount per year, plus several others including the elderly and the disabled, are not taxed.
Does it matter if I am single or married when I pay tax?
Married persons are taxed separately on his/her income. Donations between spouses are not subject to donations tax, though should the donation be made purely to avoid tax, the income earned will attribute to the donating spouse.
Has this always been the case?
No. In South Africa before 1994, women were taxed at a higher marginal rate than men, based on the argument that the male was the breadwinner and the woman’s income supplemented the household income so should be taxed more heavily.
What about pay if my partner has an accident at work?
Workers who are injured or contract a disease through their work are able to claim money from the Compensation Fund. Families can also claim if their breadwinner dies through work-related disease or injury.
The Compensation Fund covers workers who:
- Were hurt in an accident while they were busy with their work
- Contracted a disease through their work
- Died from a workplace accident or occupational disease
There are five kinds of compensation:
- Temporary disability
- Permanent disability
- Medical Expenses
- Additional compensation
Workers (or their surviving family) can claim through the Compensation Commissioner. It is important to know all the steps involved in this process. A worker should contact their trade union representative or HR department (in advance) to make sure they know what needs to be done in the event of an accident.
See more on Health and Safety at Work.
What about pay if my partner is sick?
Your partner should still receive their pay – if they follow the rules. Employees are entitled to 30 days’ paid sick leave during a 36 month period (known as the sick leave cycle) with their current employer. Employers may make provision for more paid sick leave if they think this is appropriate.
During the first six months of employment, the employee is entitled to one day sick leave for every 26 days worked. On the first working day of month number seven, the balance of the 30 days becomes available to the employee, less any days taken sick during the first six months of employment.
A valid medical certificate (sick note) should state that the employee was unable to work due to sickness or injury. In other words, if an employee is out on sick leave for more than two consecutive days, they need to bring a sick note to work.
The medical certificate (sick note) must be issued and signed by a medical practitioner or any person who is certified to diagnose and treat patients and that is registered with the relevant Act of Parliament.
Can an employer not pay for any reason?
Yes. According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 2002 Chapter 3, an employer is not required to pay an employee if the employee has been absent from work for more than two consecutive days and does not produce a valid medical certificate (sick note).
See more on Sick Leave.
What if my partner loses their job? What about pay?
If an employer terminates a workers’ service, they can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) for benefits.The benefits are only available to those who have been contributing to the UIF during their period of employment.
All employees who work for more than 24 hours per month must contribute to the Fund. It is illegal for employers not to make the deduction from your earnings.
An employee cannot claim if they have resigned, been suspended or absconded from work.
To qualify, one must register as a work seeker and declare oneself capable of and available for work. One must apply for the UIF benefits as soon as one becomes unemployed or within six months of the termination of employment.
For those contributing to the UIF monthly, benefits will be calculated by multiplying their monthly remuneration by 12 and then dividing it by 365.
For those contributing weekly, benefits will be calculated by multiplying their weekly remuneration by 52 and dividing it by 365.
Contact the nearest labour centre (with an ID document) for further advice and support.
See more on the UIF in South Africa.
What if my partner has a pension?
Your partner could either have a state pension or a private pension or provident fund. This would involve your partner receiving monthly payments.
In terms of the Pensions Funds Act, where a member of a (private) retirement fund dies (whether the fund is a retirement annuity, provident or a pension fund) the trustees of the fund must investigate who the dependents of the member are. Once they have been identified, they must distribute the death benefits accordingly. Under “dependents” is included the spouse/permanent life partner/civil union partner.
What about pay when family members/parents need help?
The state has a system of grants that are available, under specific circumstances. These include grants for:
- Older persons grant
- Disability grant
- War veterans grant
- Care dependency grant
- Foster child grant
- Child support grant
- Social Relief of Distress
Find out how to access these grants, and how much they are.
Find out more about Minimum Wages in South Africa.