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OECD Economic Surveys: South Africa 2015

image of OECD Economic Surveys: South Africa 2015

This 2015 OECD Economic Survey of South Africa examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover infrastructure and business regulation; tax policy and inclusive growth.

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How can the tax system meet revenue raising challenges?

Reforms over the past two decades have produced a well-balanced, modern tax system. However, considerable revenues will be needed in the years ahead to expand social spending and infrastructure in order to raise growth and well-being. The challenge is to generate these revenues without penalising growth or exacerbating inequality. Income taxes represent around half of total tax revenue but are levied on small tax bases, partly reflecting the distribution of income. A revenue source less detrimental to growth is consumption taxes, which are mostly raised by the relatively broad value-added tax. Nonetheless, there is some scope to raise further revenue, particularly through broadening the base of these taxes. Revenues from property taxation are currently limited by the inefficient municipal rates system, which does not function well. An important additional source of revenue is environmentally related taxes. In the design of the tax system, consideration should also be given to the appropriate taxation of the natural resources sector, which remains an important issue for a resource-rich country like South Africa.

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