Share with your friends

South Africa – Amendment to ‘Provisional Taxpayer’ Rules Will Affect Expatriate Employees

South Africa – Amendment to ‘Provisional Taxpayer’

This GMS Flash Alert reports on new rules regarding situations when an employee must register as a provisional taxpayer depending on whether the employer is registered with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for purposes of withholding and paying employees’ tax to SARS on a monthly basis.



Related content


In an attempt to collect taxes in advance from individuals who are employed and paid by a foreign nonresident company, the definition of “provisional taxpayer” has been amended to include any person who derives income by way of any remuneration from an employer that is not registered as an employer with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for purposes of withholding and paying employees’ tax to SARS on a monthly basis. 

Expatriate employees working in South Africa who only earn employment-related income, are currently not required to register as provisional taxpayers1.

The amendment to the legislation1 impacts both foreign nationals working in South Africa who remain on their home country payroll or who are on a split-payroll arrangement, and South African resident employees who are paid by a nonresident employer while working in South Africa.  


With effect from 1 March 2017, where an employee is paid remuneration by an employer that is not registered with SARS for purposes of withholding and paying employees’ tax to SARS on a monthly basis, that employee must register as a provisional taxpayer and submit provisional returns and payments on a six-monthly basis. 

In addition to their annual income tax returns, provisional taxpayers are required to submit six-monthly provisional tax returns together with the corresponding tax payment.

This change will require modifications in the employee’s — and in cases where that employee has a tax service provider, theirs as well — compliance responsibilities, and it could impact employees’ cash-flow.  Employers should be prepared to adjust their international assignment policies and communicate clearly and on a timely basis this change to affected employees. 


The term “remuneration” is defined in the Income Tax Act and includes most forms of employment income (e.g., salary, benefits, allowances, incentives, etc.). 

Currently, only a South African resident employer (or a representative employer residing in South Africa) is required to register and withhold employees’ tax (also known as Pay-As-You-Earn or PAYE) from the remuneration that it pays or becomes liable to pay to its employees.  Nonresident employers are therefore not required to register with SARS.  


It appears that even where a “shadow” payroll is operated in South Africa and employees’ tax is paid to SARS through a shadow payroll in respect of all the employee’s remuneration, an obligation still exists for the individual to register as a provisional taxpayer if the nonresident employer that actually pays the employee’s remuneration is not registered with SARS for employees’ tax purposes.

Furthermore, even where the nonresident home-country employer only continues to provide certain benefits, for example, employer contributions to the home country pension plan (which are currently not being treated as taxable in South Africa), an obligation may exist for the individual to register as a provisional taxpayer. 

This amendment could therefore impact the majority of expatriate employees who have been seconded temporarily to South Africa.  These individuals — as well as any expatriate employees commencing employment in South Africa on or after 1 March 2017, who are paid by an offshore employer — will need to be registered as provisional taxpayers. 


1  The Tax Administration Laws Amendment Act, No 16 of 2016 was gazetted on 19 January 2017.  The Amendment Act contains changes to the definition of a provisional taxpayer in paragraph 1 of the Fourth Schedule to the Income Tax Act No 58 of 1962, as amended.  These changes are effective from 1 March 2017.

The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in South Africa.

© 2020 KPMG Services Proprietary Limited, a South African company and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International, a Swiss cooperative. All rights reserved.

Flash Alert is an Global Mobility Services publication of KPMG LLPs Washington National Tax practice. The KPMG logo and name are trademarks of KPMG International. KPMG International is a Swiss cooperative that serves as a coordinating entity for a network of independent member firms. KPMG International provides no audit or other client services. Such services are provided solely by member firms in their respective geographic areas. KPMG International and its member firms are legally distinct and separate entities. They are not and nothing contained herein shall be construed to place these entities in the relationship of parents, subsidiaries, agents, partners, or joint venturers. No member firm has any authority (actual, apparent, implied or otherwise) to obligate or bind KPMG International or any member firm in any manner whatsoever. The information contained in herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

Connect with us


Want to do business with KPMG?


loading image Request for proposal