South African taxpayers are increasingly displeased about their heavy tax burden, the inefficiency of public expenditure and how they have to fund so-called public services which, in the end, they have to provide for themselves, trade union Solidarity said today in a submission to the Standing and Select Committees on Finance. The submission was a reaction to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s medium-term budget policy statement.
According to Piet le Roux, senior economics researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute, the ongoing public resistance to e-tolling is not so much simply about the tolling of some public roads as it is a general symptom of the larger tax situation in South Africa. ‘Generally, Solidarity’s members are willing to contribute substantial proportions of their income to causes that deliver little personal gain, but improve the general level of well-being in society. In so far as they feel that social well-being is furthered by tax, Solidarity’s members are willing to pay tax. They are, however, increasingly convinced that, if they did not have to pay so much tax, they would have been able to improve social well-being better than the government does by contributing their money to carefully selected charities and other non-profit organisations. They are tired of the high levels of wasteful expenditure, public inefficiency and corruption by public office bearers in South Africa.’
Le Roux said that Solidarity is convinced that current tax levels already exceed anything that government could spend efficiently. ‘We are of the opinion that further tax increases are not a viable answer to current government and public sector problems. Furthermore, it remains our view that South Africa is on an unsustainable welfare state path. The welfare state is not only financially unsustainable, but is also crowding out market and civil society initiatives necessary to restore vibrancy and dignity to community life.’ Le Roux said that Solidarity’s presentation was aimed at bringing the way ordinary taxpaying South Africans experience South Africa’s fiscal framework to the standing committee’s attention.
According to Le Roux most South Africans perform, at their own expense, many services typically thought of to be a function of government. In February Solidarity pointed out how much suburban South Africans may have to pay, out of their after-tax income, for their own safety and security, because of government’s inability to curb crime. ‘Solidarity insists that South Africans must be eligible for tax rebates for private provision of so-called government services where government fails to provide such services. In particular, Solidarity maintains that South Africans should be eligible for tax rebates for personal security expenditure in the same way that they are eligible for tax rebates on personal medical expenditure.’