Errors in VAT invoices could cost you thousands!

In this issue:

Are there any inaccuracies in your tax invoices? You may be liable for penalties, interest and even prosecution!

What keeps 93% of accountants awake at night?

Do your tax invoices pass the 5 point check

2 quick steps to see if you should charge VAT for a supply or service

What should you do if SARS comes knocking at your door?

Are these activities subject to VAT?

Claim back the input credit on your monthly short-term insurance premium

How to avoid penalties for mistakes in VAT declarations

Our VAT Helpdesk answers your most common VAT questions

Claim your free copy of 13 Steps to a Successful VAT Review

Are there any inaccuracies in your VAT invoices? You may be charged a very high penalty!

The truth is brutal! Even if it wasn't you who made the mistake, it may be you who will bear the consequences. If SARS has found inaccuracies, you will be assessed, held liable to penalties and interest and possibly even additional tax! You may even be prosecuted! To be continued here

Tip: Think VAT doesn’t apply to your payroll? You’re wrong! Avoid this common error and keep SARS away from your door at audit time

A common mistake picked up by SARS auditors at on-site audits is that employers fail to pay over VAT on company car fringe benefits. This is one of the first areas the audit team will lock onto when they audit you, so make sure you’re paying your output tax on company cars!

Tip: Claim back the input tax credit on your monthly short-term insurance premium

Do you pay a monthly short-term insurance premium, for example to insure your premises or stock against theft, damage or fire? This is a common business expense and forms part of the cost of running your business... so it’s reclaimable.

Remember to claim your input tax credit on these monthly premiums, BUT if you ever get paid out on your policy, bear in mind that because you’ve claimed an input tax credit on your premiums, you will have to  account to SARS for output tax on the payout.


Are there any inaccuracies in your tax invoices? You could be liable for penalties, interest and even prosecution!

Are you sure that the tax invoices you receive are issued properly?   Are all the SARS requirements on the tax invoice? Have you ever thought about it?  

What if something is omitted from a tax invoice on which you've already claimed input tax?

Anyone who has ever experienced a SARS VAT audit will tell you the first thing the auditors check are your tax invoices!

Do you know what to pay particular attention to? Even if it wasn't necessarily you who made the mistake, you could be held liable. If SARS auditors find errors, you could be assessed and liable for penalties and interest. You may even be prosecuted.

Errors in VAT invoices could cost you a fortune or even result in your company going bankrupt. It’s too late to have doubts when the SARS auditors visit your office.

What errors must not be made? If you are not sure, check in the Practical VAT Handbook immediately! Order it now and if you're not happy, simply return it within 30 days for a full refund.

Tip: Don’t underestimate the importance of retaining all your tax invoices.

Your tax invoice is the equivalent of the IRP5 for your income tax – if you want to claim an input tax credit, you need a tax invoice. Furthermore, you must keep your records for five years!

What keeps 93% of South African accountants awake at night?

Invoices! Do these 5 situations concern you too?
1. You are issuing an invoice. You must pay VAT but you’re not sure whether or not your client is going to pay the invoice… Do you have to pay the VAT with your own money?

Maybe you would like to find out how to avoid paying VAT for invoices until they’ve been paid by your clients and how to comply with the VAT regulations at the same time?

2. Your client says the invoice he received from you has errors, so he’s not going to pay it until you have issued a correct invoice.

Do you know how to argue in order to persuade him that he is not right?

3. The tax office called one of your invoices into question while auditing your client. What will you do when the tax office approaches you – as an issuer – and tries to make you responsible for that?

4. It turns out that your client has not declared VAT properly. Or even worse – he/she turns out to be unreliable: it’s a fictitious company, a tax cheater or simply a mail-box company. Can you deduct VAT from this invoice?

How do you handle this if SARS comes calling?

5. An invoice has become a bone of contention; non-uniform regulations are the basic reason for this.

Are you sure that your interpretation of the regulations is correct?


Order the Practical VAT Handbook


VAT and vehicles – Check the details before you get into trouble! 

If you run a business and have to use a car, you should know how to declare VAT. It’s not easy though…

Your problems will begin as soon as you buy the car. You have to be 100% sure what you can and can’t deduct.

VAT law clearly disallows an input tax deduction on what it terms a “motor car”, but will allow a deduction on single cab vehicles, delivery vehicles, and some others.

Do you know whether the vehicle you have bought is allowable as a deduction? What else do you have to know? – Much more as there are many traps. Can you claim input tax on a car you rent while out of town on business?

What about repairs and insurance? Are you aware that there are many more unclear situations? Please look at the Practical VAT Handbook before you get into trouble! 

Checklist: Common administrative errors vendors make when dealing with VAT.

Check you have fulfilled your VAT obligations in these areas – before SARS catches you out

Fringe benefits: Have you paid the tax on your company cars?

Short term insurance payments

Sundry sales and journal entries

Prohibited input tax deductions, e.g. for entertainment expenses or the hire of passenger motor vehicles

Quotes – are you issuing VAT inclusive quotes?

Petty cash

Subsistence expenses
Documentation – is it all correct and do you have everything you need to support your claims?

Are you claiming all the VAT inputs on your debit order payments?

Bad debts

Cancellation of VAT registration – this can give rise to an output tax liability on the remaining stock or assets

Leases and rentals – the time of supply is often wrong

Bank charges

The Practical VAT Handbook will give you all the information you need to ensure you meet all your VAT obligations.

Get all the information to meet your VAT obligations

3 Quick Tips

Tip: Did you know?

That domestic air tickets are subject to VAT? If you are a registered vendor and travel on company business within SA, you can claim back the 14% VAT on your air ticket! However, international air travel, and passenger transport by road and rail don’t attract VAT, and so you can’t claim it back. Remember the Golden Rule: You can’t claim it unless you’re charged it.

Tip: Claim back VAT on your banking charges

Although financial services such as transactions by cheque payment and interest on credit loans are exempt from VAT, the service fee on your bank accounts IS Vatable, and you can claim back the VAT you pay on these amounts. South African bank charges are very high and this is one way to contribute to your overall cashflow and get something back!

Tip: A little known office expense you can claim VAT on

Do you purchase flower arrangements for your reception area? Ever send get well flowers to a sick employee? You can claim back the input tax on these everyday office expenses.

Do your VAT invoices pass the 5 point check?

Checklist: VAT invoices

Make sure your VAT invoices contain all the following items to ensure trouble-free claims:

The words “Tax invoice” in a prominent place

The name, address and VAT registration number of the supplier

The name, address and VAT registration number of the recipient

An individual serialised number and the date the invoice was issued

A full and proper description of the goods or services supplied

Make sure you have complete and valid tax invoices or you will be making it very easy for SARS to meet its budget targets.

Yes! I want to ensure my VAT invoices are correct

Two quick steps to see if you should charge VAT for a supply or service

One of the most common issues that confuses people is whether or not to charge VAT for a supply or service you render to another person or business. Use this failsafe rule to solve your question in two EASY steps!

Step #1: While the new law is that you must record the name and VAT number of your client on your tax invoices, to determine whether to charge VAT or not, the VAT status of the vendor/seller/supplier counts, so always look at the VAT status of the vendor first – if he’s registered for VAT, it’s a taxable supply and VAT must be levied.

Step #2: Ask yourself, is the supply an exempt supply? The list of exempt supplies is very limited:

Passenger service by rail or road

Financial services

Supply by a charitable organisation of any donated goods

Rentals on residential property

The sale or rental of land outside SA

Shareblock and body corporate levies – but not home owners’ associations

Educational services

Union membership fees

Service of caring for children by a crèche or an after-school care centre (after-care)


Hr Holroyd signs a 12 month lease to rent a house to live in. No VAT is charged on the monthly rental as rental of residential property is an exempt supply.

Remember: If your business is only rendering exempt supplies, you may not register for VAT!

Best of all, you can start your subscription now and if you're not happy, simply return it within 30 days and get a full refund!

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Small error, serious consequences!
How to avoid penalties for errors in VAT declarations

It’s easy to assume that tax offences only happen to cheaters. But minor errors, or even negligence, may result in you defending yourself against serious charges from the tax office.
Wouldn’t it be great to find out these and many other answers? You will find them in the Practical VAT Handbook. Find out how to avoid penalties for your errors in VAT declarations. Order your copy of the Practical VAT Handbook today!

Find out how to avoid penalties for your errors in VAT declarations

What should you do if SARS comes knocking at your door?

Checklist: SARS inspections

Two rules to follow if SARS arranges a VAT inspection:
  1.  Co-operate. Don’t be difficult or try to obstruct them in doing their job, or try to hide things you fear they will find.
  2.  Be prepared.
a. Determine the period they’re interested in reviewing.

b. Prepare your records.

c. Review your records.

d. Obtain a full audit trail.

e. Reconcile VAT returns and financial statements.

Remember: You too, have rights! Make sure exactly what it is the SARS auditors want to investigate. You don’t have to accept vague answers!


Unsure of when to submit your VAT payments to SARS?
Use our simple, failsafe flowchart to see where you fit in:
Category A or B
SARS will register you as a Category A or Category B vendor if your turnover in a 12-month period is less than R30 million. We’ll deal with these categories together, as their obligations and time frames are similar. Account for your input tax and output tax, on one VAT return every two months. You’ll be showing output and input tax for two months on one return. These will be alternating months depending on whether you’re category A or category B.

Category C
If your total turnover exceeds R30 million in a 12-month period, or is expected to do so, SARS will class you as a Category C vendor. You’ll need to submit monthly VAT returns.

Category D
This category only covers farmers, farming enterprises and associations-not-for-gain involved in farming activities.

You can also apply to SARS in writing to be classified as a Category D VAT vendor if your business is based on agricultural, pastoral or other farming activities, and its total turnover in a 12-month period doesn’t exceed (and
isn’t likely to exceed) R1.5 million.

Category E
You can apply to become a Category E vendor and submit annual VAT returns if your company or trust fund
meets the below requirements set out by SARS

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How to get your VAT documentation right – first time, every time

Did you know...

that in the vast majority of cases SARS has issues NOT with your interpretation of the Act, or with fancy avoidance schemes, or even with complicated transactions, but with your documentation. This is where the most disputes, investigations and all-out battles with the assessors arise – and the crazy thing is, it’s all so avoidable.

You must get your documentation right, first time, every time – we’ll show you how with practical tips and explanations, checklists and actual examples of invoices and returns. 

 Are these activities subject to VAT?

Determining exactly what activities are subject to VAT and those that are not is challenging for the taxpayer.

Check if you know the VAT application of the supplies below:

Activity Subject to VAT Is not subject to VAT
a) Lottery Yes, VAT included in the price  
b) Tourist Services Yes, where the tourist enjoys the services in SA  
c)Selling copyright for a building project Yes, sale of intellectual property  

Common questions about VAT, answered by our VAT experts

Question: Can I request an electronic invoice?

Answer: SARS says YES – provided that it is equipped with 128 bit security, i.e. the person on the other side must not be able to tamper with or change the invoice in any way.

Question: What happens if I lose an invoice?

Answer: This is a problem – you need the invoice to claim back your input tax and SARS will reject your claim out of hand if you don’t have it. You must request the other party to give you another invoice. They must give you an electronic copy, or a stamped certified copy of the original.

Question: Can I claim input tax on office expenses such as staff tea and coffee?

Answer: Sorry – but no. These expenses fall under entertainment expenses and are specifically disallowed by the Act.

Question: Can I claim back the VAT on expenses incurred on a business trip?

Answer: Yes, you can, and this is another handy way of maximising your cashflow. Just bear the following pointers in mind:

What our readers have to say

These are extracts from letters we have received from readers of our Practical VAT Handbook



You can rely on the information contained in the Practical VAT Handbook!  

Our advisers are top experts in the area of VAT.  

They’re first-class tax advisers, employees of tax offices and affiliated to the biggest consulting companies. They offer a wealth of practical hands-on experience. And to guarantee that we provide you with outstanding service, we make sure that each piece of information is verified by an independent expert before being published – so you are 100% guaranteed of the quality of information printed in your Handbook.

About our experts:

Peter Franck, Contributor to the Practical VAT Handbook. Peter is tax consultant in the private sector and a VAT consultant to the East African office of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Peter was integrally involved in the introduction of VAT in South Africa. He worked at SARS for many years and was also a regular speaker at BPS Seminars.

Dee Bezuidenhout, Ex VAT manager at BDO, ex-SARS law administrator and interpreter and auditor with 21 years SARS experience behind her. Dee has drafted several VAT guides for SARS and assisted several other countries with the implementation and drafting of their VAT laws.

Kallie van der Merwe is an advocate and former SARS law administration group manager responsible for indirect taxes

Christo Augustyn is a manager Indirect Tax department at KPMG. Christo holds a National Diploma in Internal Audit.

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By ordering your copy of Practical VAT Handbook today:

You’ll learn how to meet all your of VAT obligations with minimum effort

The Handbook contains practical advice in a step-by-step format to help avoid penalties from SARS and complete/pay your tax in the most efficient way.

You can count on the advice in the Handbook, as it’s 100% legal

All information is referenced to the law and checked by external VAT experts/consultants.
Who should subscribe to the Practical VAT Handbook?

Accountants, bookkeepers, financial managers and directors, owners of companies, and anyone who deals with VAT issues.

And that's just the start

The Practical VAT Handbook comes with an essential updating service, the special report: The A-Z of VAT disputes!, access to the 24/7 expert Vat advice helpdesk and three bonus VAT saving reports.

You'll also immediately receive FIVE FREE BONUS GIFTS to  help you take the hassle out of VAT and make the Receiver your friend!

Combined, these gifts have a total value of R1 000 - Yours absolutely free

To welcome you as a new subscriber, you’ll get instant tax savings, with these FREE five gifts and services:
  1. You'll find out how to lodge a VAT objection and win.
  2. You have access to a personalised VAT Helpdesk service where a team of VAT experts are available 24/7 to answer your specific questions.
  3. How to prepare once SARS selects you for an audit
  4. 11 Tips for a stress-free registration process
  5. 3 Ways to avoid a 200% SARS penalty on fixed asset rentals

Total Value R2 999

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The Practical VAT Handbook is developed by VAT experts, who individually charge their clients over R1 000 an hour, but here you pay just R1 995 for their 24/7 advice.

The full subscription is valued at only R2 999…. which is a pittance, compared to the tax savings you’ll make within a few months.

Today, you can secure the full subscription for as little as R999 excl VAT - a massive R2 000 saving..

Your entire package includes

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LOWEST PRICE GUARANTEE: When you subscribe to The Practical VAT Handbook Subscription Service, you will be invoiced for the option you select. 
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Contributor: The Practical VAT Handbook

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