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Double Tax Treaties
taxes

Double Tax Treaties in South Africa

If you’re South African and earning an income overseas, there are a few points you’ll need to remember about income tax in South Africa. Even if you've packed up your things and moved abroad, if you're recognised as a tax resident in South Africa you may still have to pay taxes there. 

This article discusses everything you need to know about what double tax treaties are and the different double tax treaties South Africa has with other countries. 

What is a Double Tax Treaty?

A Double Tax Treaty (DTT), also known as a Double Tax Agreement (DTA), is a legal agreement between two countries which clearly states where a person's tax liability resides. 

As a South African resident earning an income from a foreign country, you may end up in a situation where you are paying foreign taxes and South African taxes. 

Nobody wants to pay taxes twice, so it’s worthwhile to check your tax liability with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to make sure you're filing your income tax return correctly

Double taxation agreements stop a taxpayer from paying excessive taxes for South Africa and the related country specified in the contract. 

Amendments that took effect on 1 March 2020 state that the tax-exempt status for South African tax residents earning an income from abroad would only apply to the first R1.25 million in revenue. After that, they will have to pay income tax on their overseas earnings. 

How Many Double Tax Treaties does South Africa have?

In contrast to every other African country, South Africa has the largest network of income tax treaties. South Africa has established 79 tax treaties in the following locations: 

  • 23 African countries 
  • 28 European countries 
  • 13 Pacific and Asian countries 
  • 6 with South and North America 
  • 9 in the Middle East 

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African Country Double Tax Treaties 

South Africa’s tax treaty network is spread throughout Africa in Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, North African countries, West African countries, and East African countries. Their main focus is to continue expanding and improving the treaty network within Africa. 

South Africa has some agreements, including the Mauritius South Africa tax treaty, the Congo tax treaty, and the Namibia tax treaty. Here’s a full list of their current double tax treaties in Africa

Country

Publication date

When this became effective

Algeria

21 June 2000

12 June 2000

Botswana

12 May 2004

20 April 2004

Cameroon

1 September 2017

13 July 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

24 October 2012

18 July 2012

Egypt

22 January 1999

16 December 1998

Ethiopia

10 February 2006

4 January 2006

Ghana

18 May 2007

23 April 2007

Kenya

19 November 2015

19 June 2015

Lesotho

24 June 2016

27 May 2016

Malawi

13 August 1971

2 September 1971

Mauritius

17 June 2015

28 May 2015

Mozambique

13 March 2009

19 February 2009

Namibia

19 February 1999

11 April 1999

Nigeria

22 July 2008

5 July 2008

Rwanda

27 August 2010

3 August 2010

Seychelles

30 October 2003

29 July 2002

Sierra Leone

-

5 October 1960

Swaziland

1 June 2005

8 February 2005

Tanzania

4 July 2007

15 June 2007

Tunisia

15 December 1999

10 December 1999

Uganda

24 May 2001

9 April 2001

Zambia

-

31 August 1956

Zimbabwe

24 September 1956

3 September 1956

European Country Double Tax Treaties 

South Africa has formed double tax treaties with 28 European countries. For South Africa, the United Kingdom (UK) tax treaty was especially important since they were one of the largest trading partners to South Africa. 

If you’re a South African tax resident earning income in the UK, you can learn more about your tax situation on the UK government website

Other countries in Europe that have a tax treaty with South Africa include the following: 

Country

Publication date

When this became effective

Austria

30 April 1997

6 February 1997

Belarus

15 January 2004

29 December 2003

Belgium

2 November 1998

9 October 1998

Bulgaria

22 April 2005

27 October 2004

Croatia

21 November 1997

7 November 1997

Czech Republic

7 January 1998

3 December 1997

Denmark

22 December 1995

21 December 1995

Finland

1 December 1995

12 December 1995

France

27 September 1995

1 November 1995

Germany

25 May 1973

28 February 1975

Greece

3 March 2003

14 February 2003

Hungary

13 September 1996

5 May 1996

Ireland

15 December 1997

5 December 1997

Italy

8 March 1999

2 March 1999

Luxembourg

6 December 2000

8 September 2000

Malta

21 November 1997

12 November 1997

Netherlands

23 January 2009

28 December 2008

Norway

15 October 1996

12 September 1996

Poland

16 May 1996

5 December 1995

Portugal

23 December 2008

22 October 2008

Romania

27 September 1995

21 October 1995

Russian Federation

20 July 2000

26 June 2000

Slovak Republic

25 August 1999

30 June 1999

Spain

12 March 2008

28 December 2007

Sweden

27 December 1995

25 December 1995

Switzerland

6 March 2009

27 January 2009

Ukraine

10 January 2005

29 December 2004

United Kingdom

31 January 2003

17 December 2002

Asian and Pacific Country Double Tax Treaties 

Income tax treaties are available to 13 countries in Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. To confirm whether or not the country you work with belongs to this region, here’s a list of the countries that have a double tax treaty with South Africa: 

Country

Publication date

When this became effective

Australia

24 December 1999

21 December 1999

China

2 February 2001

7 January 2001

Hong Kong

24 November 2015

20 October 2015

India

12 December 1997

28 November 1997

Indonesia

16 February 1999

23 November 1998

Japan

27 October 1997

5 November 1997

Korea

26 January 1996

7 January 1996

Malaysia

13 July 2006

17 March 2006

New Zealand

17 September 2004

23 July 2004

Pakistan

17 March 1999

9 March 1999

Singapore

2 January 1998

5 December 1997

Taiwan

3 September 1996

12 September 1996

Thailand

3 September 1996

27 August 1996

North and South America Double Tax Treaties 

Only six American countries have double tax treaties with South Africa. The South African US tax treaty was terminated in 1987 due to an anti-apartheid Act created in 1986. However, the double tax treaty between the US and South Africa was revived in 1997.

Does Canada have a double tax treaty with South Africa? Yes, the Canada-South Africa tax treaty has been in effect since 1997. Here’s a full list of the tax treaties between South Africa and North and South America:

Country

Publication date

When this became effective

Brazil

28 July 2006

24 July 2006

Canada

7 May 1997

30 April 1997

Chile

9 September 2016

11 August 2016

Grenada

--

5 October 1960

Mexico

24 August 2010

22 July 2010

United States of America (USA)

15 December 1997

28 December 1997

Middle East Double Tax Treaties 

Out of the Middle East’s 18 countries, South Africa only has treaties with nine of its countries. These include the following:

Country

Publication date

When this became effective

Cyprus

22 December 1998

8 December 1998

Iran

22 December 1998

23 November 1998

Israel

13 July 1979

27 May 1980

Kuwait

20 April 2007

25 April 2006

Oman

15 January 2004

29 December 2003

Qatar

11 February 2016

2 December 2015

Saudi Arabia

23 January 2009

1 May 2008

Turkey

11 December 2006

6 December 2006

United Arab Emirates

15 December 2016

23 November 2016

That concludes all the countries that have double tax treaties with South Africa. You can learn more about this topic by reading this small business tax guide and this article on how to file your own business tax

Keeping up with your taxes and finances and making time to grow your business can be extremely hard. Fortunately, managing your expenses and income can become much easier with QuickBooks’ accounting software—leaving you with more time to focus on business growth. Try QuickBooks online today with a free 30-day trial.

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Disclaimer: This page is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute accounting, tax, business, or legal advice. You should always consult your own advisors for advice relating to your business or situation. Always consult SARS directly as information changes from time to time.


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