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South Africa To Tax Netflix & Other “Electronic Services”

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Taxation of digital services seems to be the something that’s on the mind of many governments right now. The UK government wants to tax Facebook. Our very own Honourable Mthuli Ncube is also thinking about taxing Netflix and from 2019, South Africa will be following suit.

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The tax will impact services that are supplied from abroad by an electronic agent, electronic communication or the Internet are now electronic services for the purposes of VAT. The move is well thought-out and the government will exclude education and telecoms services from paying this digital VAT.

Which type of services will be taxed as well? Well services that fall under the following descriptions;

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  • Software subscription services
  • The use of software by an entity in South Africa provided electronically by its holding company situated abroad (unless the exclusion applies)
  • Broadcasting
  • Cloud computing
  • Advertising services
  • Gaming
  • Any reservation services made via an online platform

Fair enough right?

Well, when you consider the fact that Netflix supremacy is a bad thing for DStv (a company which actually employs human beings in South Africa) it only makes sense for the government to want to get what it can from these kind of companies. I think it’s fair enough but some people may differ from me on that one. In the case of other companies that are not Netflix, I still think it’s fair that the government is using this avenue to increase its tax base. Especially once you consider the popularity of services such as Facebook and Netflix.

Bad news…

The one negative that will come from this move is that the end-users are most probably the ones who will suffer most as whichever company is being taxed will end up passing on these costs to users. Using Netflix as an example, they’ll probably just increase their pricing. VAT is usually passed onto customers and it would be an anomaly if this wasn’t the case with this new tax.

The digital services tax will be put into effect on the 1st of April 2019, which gives affected companies more than enough time to register with SARS (South Africa Revenue Service).

Mthuli NcubeDStv

Professor Mthuli Ncube is the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.He was the Chief Economist and Vice President of the African Development Bank ,financial, economics, investment, and public policy expert, entrepreneur and academic. Professor Ncube divides his time between the private sector in Switzerland and... Read More About Mthuli Ncube

DStv is a Pay TV service owned by South African company, Multichoice. DStv provides a broad spectrum of entertainment, news and information channels subscribed to via bouquets. Bouquets have a pre selected number of channels. In Zimbabwe, the DStv service is provided by Multichoice Zimbabwe,... Read More About DStv

5 thoughts on “South Africa To Tax Netflix & Other “Electronic Services”

    1. Unlike Mthuli, South Africa is giving all affected enough time to prepare for the tax whereas Mthuli likes springing surprises on people without due consideration of the impact it will have.

  1. this is a bit of a stupid article (and somewhat clickbait). considering in SA you can pay in Rand online for Netflix…and that exchange control is very well regulated over there, its a wonder why SA did not do this sooner.

    Can you pay for anything online using Bond in Zimbabwe? Obviously not… so why then is it relevant that SA can tax for online services?

  2. Remember these are companies who are going to pay tax not citizens like they want to do here. All the Govt does here is fleece us.

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