Happy Tax Freedom Day!

The 14th of May is a happy day that all South African taxpayers should be celebrating as in 2023, that’s the day after the country has earned enough to pay for our government. Tax Freedom Day (TFD) is a simplified way of showing how much time we all spend working for the government’s GDP rather than our benefit. From January 1st to May 13th every cent you earned went to the government’s annual budget, and from the 14th of May onward all the money goes to you.

By putting the tax burden on a calendar like this, we can clearly see just what it means to be paying taxes, and how much impact tax has on our day-to-day lives, but there is one other extremely useful reason for keeping track of Tax Freedom Day.

“In 2022 South Africa had the 12th highest income tax burden, the 9th highest company income tax burden, and the 14th highest non-resource tax burden worldwide.”

Tax Freedom Day marks the day in the year when South Africans stop giving all their money to their government for the year and finally start working for themselves. In 2023, Free Market Foundation statistician Garth Zietsman has worked out that this day will be the 14th of May, two days later than in 2022, which in turn fell 10 days later than predicted in 2021. 

In 2023, the average South African taxpayer has had to work for a predicted 133 days to pay their taxes. Back in 1994, South Africans took 101 days. The usefulness of the metric is now clear – South Africans are now spending a full month longer every single year working for their government.

According to Zietsman, the actual date may be far worse: “The prediction is based on the intended level of tax collection for central government mentioned in the Budget Speech. Typically, the actual figure, which is the general government revenue as a percentage of GDP from the Reserve Bank Quarterly, turns out to be 30% more than the intended figure for central government”. 

The Freemarket Foundation is a Johannesburg based, classical liberal think tank, who have adapted the concept of Tax Freedom Day from Florida businessman Dallas Hostetler who developed and trademarked the idea in America in 1948.

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