2019 Tax legislative amendment

The 2019 tax legislation amendment cycle commenced on 25 June, when National Treasury issued the initial batch of the Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill which covers specific provisions that require further consultation. National Treasury will be publishing the full text of the 2019 Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill for public comment in mid-July 2019. One of the topics for amendment in the first batch deals with apparent abusive arrangements aimed at avoiding the anti-dividend stripping provisions.

Anti-avoidance rules dealing with dividend stripping were first introduced in 2009. Dividend stripping occurs when a shareholder company intending to divest from a target company avoids capital gains tax that would ordinarily arise on the sale of shares. This is achieved by the target company declaring a large dividend (to the shareholder company) before the sale of its shares to a prospective purchaser. This pre-sale dividend (normally exempt from dividends tax in the case of a company-to-company declaration) decreases the value of shares in the target company. As a result, the shareholder company sells the shares at a lower amount, avoiding the burden of capital gains tax in respect of the sale of shares.

In 2017 and 2018, several amendments were made to strengthen the anti-avoidance rules dealing with dividend stripping. Currently, certain exempt dividends (called extra-ordinary dividends), received by a shareholder company are treated as taxable proceeds in the hands of the shareholder company, as long as the shares in respect of which extra-ordinary dividends are received, are disposed of within a certain period, thereby eliminating the planning opportunities that dividend stripping presented.

National Treasury has indicated that it has come to Government’s attention that specific alleged abusive tax schemes aimed at circumventing the anti-avoidance rules dealing with dividend stripping arrangements are currently in the market. Essentially, a substantial dividend distribution by the target company to the shareholder company is done, combined with the issuance (by the target company) of its shares to the purchaser. The result is a dilution of the shareholder company’s effective interest in the shares of the target company that does not involve the disposal of those shares by the shareholder company. The shareholder company retains a negligible stake in the shares of the target company without triggering the current anti-avoidance rules.

In terms of the proposed amendments, the anti-avoidance rules will no longer apply only at the time when a shareholder company disposes of shares in a target company, as is currently the case. Furthermore, if a target company issues shares to another party and the market value of the shares held by the (current) shareholder company in the target company are reduced by reason of the shares issued by the target company, the shareholder company will be deemed to have disposed of and immediately reacquired its shares in the target company, thus creating value-shifting. This happens despite actual disposal not taking place, which could lead to adverse capital gains tax consequences.

It is expected that the proposed amendments, currently open for public comment, will be met with some severe criticism from the industry, especially since several legitimate BEE schemes could be impacted if the proposals are accepted as currently proposed.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)




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IC Marais

Professional experience:

IC Marais is a certified CA (SA) with public sector and private sector technical knowledge based on 5 years’ Public Sector accounting, auditing and financial management experience and 5 years audit, tax and accounting experience. Detailed knowledge of private and public sector accounting and auditing standards (GRAP, IPSAS, IFRS, IAS, ISA) and public sector financial legislation (MFMA, etc.)

He enjoys the outdoors, hunting and fishing.



Professional experience:

In 1995, Schalk started as a trainee at Warner and Newton (which became Moores Rowland in 1997 and then Mazars Moores Rowland in 2007) in Bloemfontein. In 1998, Schalk was appointed as manager at Moores Rowland, where he became a partner in 2003. Schalk received his Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Taxation in 2006 and in 2009 he received his Certificate in the Administration of Estates.



Professional experience:

Cedric started as a trainee at Warner and Newton (which became Moores Rowland in 1997 and Mazars Moores Rowland in 2007), Bloemfontein, in 1986. After completion of his articles, he joined the Special Investigations Division of the Department of Finance (SA Revenue Services) as a senior inspector from 1990 to 1991.



Professional experience:

Lucha started her career as a tax inspector at the Inland Revenue Department of New Zealand. After this she worked in commerce in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

On her return to South Africa, she completed her CA training contract with us and has been with Newtons ever since. She became a Partner in 2012.

Apart from her CA(SA) qualification she also holds a postgraduate certificate in Advanced Taxation (2005) and has the overall responsibility for training as our Training Officer.