VAT effects of supplying electronic services in South Africa

By Graeme Saggers, Nolands SA

A recent amendment to the Value-added Tax (“VAT”) Act has meant that foreign suppliers of electronic services are likely to levy VAT at a rate of 14% on any supplies to South African residents.

Below are five key effects or requirements resulting from this amendment:

1. The definition of “electronic services” is broad and includes education, games and games of chance, Internet-based auction services, miscellaneous services including e-books, audio-visual content, still images and music and subscription services that are provided “by means of an electronic agent, electronic communication, or the Internet”.

2. Foreign suppliers are required to register as a VAT vendor when the value of their supplies cumulatively exceeds ZAR 50,000 (approximately EUR 3,200).

3. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has issued a draft ruling saying electronic services suppliers are no longer required to register for VAT if they supply electronic services only through an intermediary platform.

4. Electronic service providers must use the exchange rate published by SARB (South African Reserve Bank), Bloomberg or the European Central Bank on the date of supply, the exchange rate on the last day of the month preceding the time of supply, or the monthly average exchange rate of the month preceding the supply.

5. Electronic service providers may advertise and quote their prices exclusive of VAT on condition that their website contains a statement that VAT will be levied on the supply of electronic services.

This amendment has only been active for two years and so commentators are expecting further changes and clarifications on the Act and related regulations.

Graeme Saggers

Graeme Saggers

Nolands SA, Cape Town, South Africa
T: +27 21 658 6600
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Graemeis the National Tax Partner for Nolands.He obtained his BCom (Hons) degree at Rhodes University and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2009 after completing his articles at KPMG.He joined Nolands in 2011 as an Audit Manager and was appointed as the Tax Director at Nolands in September 2014.

Nolands SA is a national auditing firm, with ten offices located in all major centres in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mauritius, employing almost 200 people focused on providing the best possible solutions for its clients. Nolands prides itself on being “out of the ordinary” and its ability to integrate services and respond rapidly to clients’ needs.

Published: October 2016 l Photo: olly -

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