Deepening Democracy through Access to Information
Home / Press Office / Other Briefs RSS ← Back

Email this article

separate emails by commas, maximum limit of 4 addresses

Verification Image. Please refresh the page if you cannot see this image.

Sponsored by


Article Enquiry

Foreign companies supplying electronic services to SA now face stiff tax penalties for non compliance

Verification Image. Please refresh the page if you cannot see this image.

Embed Video

Foreign companies supplying electronic services to SA now face stiff tax penalties for non compliance

15th May 2019


Font size: -+

The VAT base for electronic services in South Africa was broadened as from 1 April 2019. More specifically, foreign businesses that supply services to customers (i.e. both B2B and B2C) by means of an electronic agent, electronic communication or the internet for any consideration would be liable to register for VAT in South Africa, where the following conditions are prevalent:

  • A R1 million threshold in any rolling 12 month period is breached; and
  • where two of the following circumstances prevail:

(i) if the customer is a resident of South Africa;
(ii) if the customer has a postal, business or residential address;
(iii) if the payment for such electronic services originates from a bank in South Africa


Types of services
Services that are envisaged by the broadening of the VAT base, would include the following:

  • any reservation services made via an online platform;   
  • software subscription services,
  • broadcasting,
  • cloud computing,
  • advertising services, or
  • gaming

However, electronic services exclude: educational services that are regulated by an educational authority in an export country and telecommunications services.
Reservation services
Interestingly, where an online platform charges a facilitation fee for facilitating the booking of accommodation for a SA resident customer (for accommodation inside or outside South Africa), the services supplied by the online platform falls within the ambit of electronic services. It follows that the platform would have to charge VAT at the rate of 15% on the facilitation fee, notwithstanding the fact that it facilitates the booking of accommodation that is located outside South Africa.
Further, where a foreign supplier of electronic services provides the services by using the electronic platform of an intermediary, the intermediary will be deemed to be the supplier for VAT purposes, if the intermediary facilitates the supply of the electronic services and is responsible for issuing the invoice and collecting the payment. It follows that the foreign service provider would have no obligation to register for VAT in South Africa. An intermediary that facilitates the supply of electronic services on behalf of the foreign service provider and outsources the issuing of the invoice and collection of payment to a third party supplier, may still be required to register for VAT in South Africa (if certain conditions are met).
Non-Compliance may be costly
Foreign businesses that provide services to South African resident customers (and intermediaries that act on behalf of these foreign businesses, as described) must assess whether it has an obligation to register for VAT in South Africa. Failure to register for VAT on a timeous basis would lead to penalties and interest being imposed by SARS, and the foreign business and intermediary may also incur reputational damage that may impact its business.


Written By Seelan Moonsamy, Tax Consultant, Baker McKenzie Johannesburg


To subscribe email or click here
To advertise email or click here

Comment Guidelines

About is a product of Creamer Media.

Other Creamer Media Products include:
Engineering News
Mining Weekly
Research Channel Africa

Read more


We offer a variety of subscriptions to our Magazine, Website, PDF Reports and our photo library.

Subscriptions are available via the Creamer Media Store.

View store


Advertising on is an effective way to build and consolidate a company's profile among clients and prospective clients. Email

View options
Free daily email newsletter Register Now