How working from home may have cut your tax bill

At SimplePay we love going the extra mile for our customers and their employees. Normally this involves making your payroll obligations a breeze, but sometimes there are aspects of income tax law that we like to highlight as they can benefit both you and your employees!

As you will be all too aware, COVID-19 triggered an exodus out of the office with many finding themselves Working From Home (WFH) for extended periods of time. With the notable exception of one’s pets, it’s fair to say that most of us have found WFH to be anything but smooth sailing. Video meetings, choppy internet connection, the forbidden L word (thanks Eskom)… It hasn’t always been a walk in the park. 

There is one positive result of this though and it comes in the form of a tax deduction for certain home office expenses. Provided you meet the requirements laid out below, the various costs that you’ve incurred running a home office could be deducted when you submit your individual tax return (ITR12) next month. 

(The below is intended purely for informational purposes to highlight the existence of this deduction – for any queries around eligibility, claiming etc, please contact SARS directly).

What are the qualification requirements?

There are four key elements to be eligible to claim home office expenses:

  1. The part of your home connected to the claim must be occupied for the purpose of trade.

Put simply, you need to have an allocated area in your home from which you work.

  1. The part of your home needs to be specifically equipped and regularly and exclusively used for the purpose of trade.

Specifically equipped” simply means that you have the equipment needed for you to carry out your role. Clearly this is subjective; the equipment required by a software developer is not the same as that required by a carpenter. Practically this could mean as little as a laptop, chair, table and internet connection.

Regularly” is again subjective, but a SARS interpretation note highlights that there needs to be a certain frequency of working that once a week is unlikely to meet.

Exclusively” indicates that the part of your home used to work must be exclusively used for that purpose. As soon as there is mixed business and private use, this requirement isn’t met. There is no hard and fast rule on exclusive use currently, so you will need to make a judgement call on whether you’ve satisfied this requirement. If you’re at all unsure, it’s always best to contact SARS directly – their call centre is very helpful!

  1. You need to work at home for at least 6 months of the tax year.

For salary-based employees to claim, at least 50% of their working time must be spent working from home. So, if you moved to remote working after the first lockdown in March 2020 and didn’t return to the office before October 2020 you’ve most likely met this requirement!

  1. Your employer must have granted you permission to work from home.

This could be as simple as a letter from your employer confirming that they required you to work from home and explaining to what extent.

What might you be able to claim?

Once you qualify,  some of the key items you might be able to claim expenses for are:

  • A portion of the cost of your rent / your bond’s interest*
  • Rates and taxes for the property*
  • Repair / renovation costs*
  • Maintenance costs for the home office e.g. cleaning
  • Wear and tear allowances on stationery and office equipment used for the purpose of trade.

*You can claim the cost of rent / interest on your bond, repair / renovation costs and rates and taxes in proportion with the percentage of your home occupied as a home office. 

SARS has stated  that estimates will not be permitted and you must be in a position to prove the floor area of both your premises and the home office, if requested. They have not elaborated on what they will require as evidence, but this clearly makes it very important to be as precise as possible for the proportion you claim.

FYI: employees who earn more than 50% of their gross income through commission can deduct further expenses, but for simplicity’s sake this information has not been included. If you would like more information on this, please call SARS or visit their webpage.

Ok I’m satisfied I qualify, how can I claim?

Individual filing season opened on 1 July 2021 and runs until 23 November 2021. As long as your employer has completed their employer filing return, your ITR12 should be pre-populated with the relevant information from the IRP5.

You can claim your home office expenses on your individual tax return (ITR12). In claiming the expenses you will need to make sure:

  • You meet the requirements laid out above.
  • You have recorded the expenses that you’ve incurred by running your home office (there is no prescribed format, you just need to provide the information in a clear way, like a spreadsheet). 
  • You have retained bills and receipts to evidence your expenditure, in case this is requested by SARS (these should be retained for 5 years).

When completing your individual ITR12 you simply need to claim the amount under the deductions sections and upload your relevant supporting documents when prompted.

Once you’ve done this, you can file your return and that’s it! It’s then over to SARS to review your return and pay across the amounts due to you. As always, if you’re at all unsure about whether you qualify, how to complete the forms etc, please get in touch with the SARS call centre for guidance.

We hope that this information has proved useful to you. As this information is relevant to a larger than normal proportion of people this filing season, we encourage you to share this post with your employees, colleagues, friends and family, so that everyone can benefit!

 If you have any questions on the above information you can contact SARS on 0800 00 7277. 

Equally, if you are not yet a client of SimplePay but would like to be, why not check out our website? Or, better yet, try out our service for free with our 30-day trial, get acquainted with our user-friendly service by reading our getting started page, or take our free online course

Keep well and stay safe 

Team SimplePay

TERS Phase 2: Non-Sectoral Claim Applications

In our previous blog post covering the COVID-19 TERS initiative, we introduced Phase 2 of the initiative and discussed the requirements for making an application for relief on behalf of an employee for the first period, under Claim Code 1. In today’s blog post, we will cover the process relating to claims under the remaining codes (2, 3 and 4), for which applications officially opens on 13 April 2021.

One of the notable highlights of the State of the Nation address earlier this year was the announcement of the extension of the COVID-19 TERS relief scheme from 16 October 2020 to 15 March 2021. This ‘Phase 2’ of the COVID-19 TERS relief scheme is split into two payment iterations which will focus on claims based on loss of income during two specific periods. 

  • The first period is between 16 October to 31 December 2020; and
  • The second period is between 1 January to 15 March 2021. 

Only claims for the first period are currently being accepted by the UIF and claims relating to the second period will be dealt with at a later date.

New Verification Requirements Added

In order to claim for an employee falling under Claim Code 2, 3 or 4 the TERS online portal will require you to complete a new two step verification process. A detailed explanation of each of these codes can be found here.

The verification process revolves around the requirements set out in the guideline on the submission of COVID-19 related health data from workplaces to the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH), which places the legal obligation on all employers to collect and report data on certain categories of employees to the NIOH. The UIF have decided to use the registration and submission of this data to the NIOH by the employer as a means of verification for the processing of non-sector based claims.

Employers who are not registered with the NIOH will be unable to proceed with a claim under Claim Code 2, 3 or 4..

To register with the NIOH you are directed to visit their website to complete the registration and employee declaration. At least 4 days should be allowed between receipt of your Business ID, upon successful registration, and returning to the TERS portal to lodge a claim.

Claim Process

  1. All claims will be lodged via the UIF online portal and, irrespective of claim code, you will be required to upload the following documents:
  • Signed approval / acceptance letter;
  • Bank Confirmation Letter (current);
  • Proof of payment to employees for previous benefits claimed & received for the prior period (e.g. EFT, payroll report, pay recon);
  • Refund to the UIF (if applicable); and
  • Letter of authority

(these are the same documents required for previous TERS applications)

  1. If you intend making a claim on behalf of an employee falling under Claim Code 2, 3 or 4 you will be required to complete the two step verification process:

Step 1: Verification of Employer Registration with NIOH

You will be asked to confirm (via dropdown) your registration with the NIOH and also that you have declared your affected employees.

Step 2: Verification of Employee Declaration with NIOH

You will be required to individually capture the details of each affected employee, whose ID/Passport/Asylum seeker number will be verified against those in the NIOH database.

Important Areas to Note When Applying

Lockdown Period

Benefits will be calculated by the amount of days claimed within the designated lockdown period, which is from 16 October 2020 to 31 December 2020. Any dates which do not fall within this range will not be accepted.

Monthly Salary

Regardless of the lockdown period being claimed (even if for the full two-and-a-half months’ lockdown period) you must only enter the normal monthly salary for the employee. DO NOT alter/extrapolate this value to meet the cumulative lockdown period.

Remuneration earned for hours worked (excluding leave income and advance)

Unlike monthly salary, this column must reflect the full lockdown period’s cumulative remuneration. The remuneration earned for the entire period must be stated but all advances, ex gratia payments, or income related to annual or other leave must be excluded.


Although Phase 2 of the COVID-19 TERS initiative is seen as an extension of the previous relief program, it is important to note the key differences in Phase 2 relating to who the benefit is actually aimed at. Each specified Claim Code has its own identifying factors and criteria which must be strictly adhered to. This undoubtedly limits the applicability of the initiative this time around and greatly reduces the potential beneficiaries of the relief.  

The UIF can be contacted directly on 0800 030 007 for general queries on this issue as well as the lodging of disputes relating to an application. Greater detail on the process can also be found in the UIF’s correspondence sent to employers. 

If you have any questions on how the information provided in this blog relates to SimplePay, you can contact us at [email protected] 

Keep well and stay safe.

Team SimplePay

2021 ROE Submissions Are Due

It’s time for you to complete and submit your Return of Earnings (ROE) or W.As.8 to the Compensation Fund. This submission is a declaration of your employees’ earnings for the period 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2021 (the same as the tax year). In addition, you also need to provide projected earnings for the next year (1 March 2021 to 28 February 2022).

The deadline for this submission is 31 May 2021.

As always, SimplePay tries to make your life easier by automatically generating a report on the system that will help you to complete your W.As.8. Simply go to Submissions > OID (Workman’s Comp) Return to download the report.

The current 2020/2021 Return of Earnings threshold of R484 200 is already taken into account by SimplePay. Additionally, the Compensation Fund has published a new annual earnings threshold of R506 473 per annum for the 2021/2022 Return of Earnings (form W.As.8). We have updated our system to accommodate this.

More information about the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (COID) Act can be found on our help site.

Please feel free to contact [email protected] if you need any assistance.

Team SimplePay

Budget Speech – 24 February 2021

As we enter the new tax year on 1 March, we’d like to remind you that there is no need to do a manual year end as in other payroll systems – simply continue processing payslips into the new tax year.

When you need to do your filing, the correct period will automatically be used and the relevant documents will be generated. For more information, please see our help site.

Our system will be up to date in time for next month in order to ensure that you are always compliant. We are pleased to inform you that from 1 March 2021, your payroll will automatically meet all the requirements for the 2021 / 2022 period, as announced in the 2021 Budget Speech on 24 February 2021. If you are still processing payroll for the 2020 / 2021 tax year, the old tax tables will still be used, as you’d expect.

Here are some of the most important changes that you will see in your payroll for the coming year:

2021 / 2022 Tax Rates

The tax rates for individuals have remained the same as last year. However, government has increased the personal income tax brackets by 5% on average, which is above the rate of inflation (this being approximately 4%). In other words, all individual taxpayers will pay less income tax this year than in the previous year. 

Taxable Income (R)Rate of Tax (R)
1 – 216 20018% of taxable income
216 201 – 337 80038 916 + 26% of taxable income above 216 200
337 801 – 467 50070 532 + 31% of taxable income above 337 800
467 501 – 613 600110 739 + 36% of taxable income above 467 500
613 601 – 782 200163 335 + 39% of taxable income above 613 600
782 201 – 1 656 600229 089 + 41% of taxable income above 782 200
1 656 601 and above587 593 + 45% of taxable income above 1 656 600

All three categories of tax rebates (under 65 years old; 65 – 75 years old; and over 75) have increased by 5% from the previous year to the current year under the budget. 

The tax threshold has increased from R83 100 to R87 300, translating to the primary rebate increasing from R14 958 to R15 714. 

In addition to the primary rebate, the secondary rebate and tertiary rebates have been increased to R8 613 and R2 871 respectively. 

Medical Aid Tax Credit

The amount that can be deducted due to medical aid tax credit has increased as follows:

  • The tax credit for the main member and first dependant has increased from R319 to R332 per month.
  •  For every additional dependant, the tax credit has increased from R215 to R224 per month.

UIF Contributions

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) contribution ceiling was announced to be increasing from R14 872,00 to R17 711,58 per month. UIF is calculated as 2% of an employee’s remuneration for UIF purposes, split equally between the employer and employee. Remuneration for UIF purposes is the employee’s remuneration, less certain exclusions such as commission. Under the budget speech, the maximum UIF contribution for each party is, therefore, R177,11 a month (R354,22 in total). 

Despite the announcement in the budget speech of this proposed change, for it to be effected, the alteration to the monthly UIF contribution limit needs to be published in the Government Gazette. Therefore, this change is not yet effective and shouldn’t be reflected on payroll.

The SimplePay Team has received confirmation from a reliable source that the UIF contribution ceiling change will be postponed. As such, we will continue to apply the original UIF contribution ceiling threshold of R14 872 until such a time as the increase has been confirmed to be effective. 

Subsistence Allowance

The ‘tax free’ portion of Subsistence Allowance* has remained unchanged at R139,00 for incidental costs within South Africa, and R452,00 for meals and incidental costs within South Africa.

*It is important to note that the subsistence allowance is only a guideline provided by SARS and is not legislated.

Travel Allowances

  • The rate per kilometre for reimbursive travel allowances remains unchanged at 398 cents (R3, 98).
  • The rates per kilometre which may be used in determining the allowable deduction for business travel against an allowance or advance where actual costs are not claimed, are outlined in the following SARS table:
Value of the vehicle (R)Fixed cost(R p.a.)Fuel cost(c/km)Maintenance cost(c/km)
0 – 95 00031 332105, 837, 4
95 001 – 190 00055 894118, 146, 8
190 001 – 285 00080 539128, 351, 6
285 001 – 380 000102 211138, 056, 4
380 001 – 475 000123 955147, 766, 2
475 001 – 570 000146 753169, 477, 8
570 001 – 665 000169 552175, 196, 6
665 001 and above169 552175, 196, 6

Non-Payroll Related

Section 12J Tax Incentive

The scheme, introduced in 2008 and which allowed taxpayers to invest in start-up companies in lieu of paying income tax, is set to expire on 30 June 2021. You can find more information on the rationale behind the winding up of this incentive on pages 48 and 49 of the budget speech

We hope that this information has proved useful to you. If you have any questions on how the information provided relates to SimplePay, you can contact us at [email protected]

Equally, if you are not yet a client of SimplePay but would like to be, why not check out our website? Or, better yet, try out our service for free with our 30-day trial, get acquainted with our user-friendly service by reading our getting started page, or take our free online course

Keep well and stay safe.

Team SimplePay

Revamped Preview Page for Bulk Finalising Payslips

We understand the importance of capturing payroll correctly. Many clients spend countless hours downloading and reviewing the PDF draft payslips for employees before finalising them. We thought that there has to be a better way to review payslip information in bulk! Introducing our new and improved bulk finalisation page.

This newly improved page allows you to use various toggles to show or hide additional payslip information so that you can focus on the information and figures that you want to see, whether this is simply the nett pay for each employee or more detailed information like payslip inputs or payslip values. The recent activity for payslips is now more clearly laid out, which is particularly useful to review if your payroll is prepared by multiple users.

For more information on the various aspects of this page, please refer to our help page here.

Just another way that the SimplePay team is working to improve payroll for you! 

Not a SimplePay client but want a payroll system that makes you more efficient? Sign up for our free 30-day trial here and see just how simple payroll can be.

Team SimplePay

New Pay Frequency: Every 4 Weeks

We’re excited to announce the release of a new pay frequency. In addition to weekly, monthly, bi-weekly and twice a month pay frequencies, you can now also set up pay frequencies with four week cycles. There is no additional charge for the extra functionality and it is automatically available to you.

Employees on this pay frequency will have 13 regular payslips per year, calculated as 52 weeks divided by 4 weeks. As always, SimplePay has one monthly fee and doesn’t charge for the number of payslips that are generated as a result of the pay frequency.

Remember that where employees accrue leave, their accrual per period (the accrual that appears on each payslip) is calculated as Entitlement per cycle / number of pay periods per cycle. Therefore, employees on an annual leave cycle will accrue leave according to the following formula: Annual leave entitlement / 13

If you’d like to use this pay frequency, you can set it up by following the steps in this help article. If you get stuck and need further assistance, or if you have any other queries, please get in touch with our Support team.

Not a SimplePay client but looking for a payroll software provider that cares about your needs, one that listens and takes action, one that doesn’t bill you with unnecessary charges? Find out more about us on our home page or sign up for a free trial.

Team SimplePay

SARS’ SMME Feedback Survey

Is your business a Small, Medium or Micro Enterprise (SMME)? We write to you today about an opportunity for you to give input on any tax related pain points or bottlenecks that you’ve experienced.

SARS is currently performing a study on the effectiveness of the current tax legislation, policies and incentives from the point of view of SMMEs, in order to help influence future legislative changes.

If you would like to complete a survey in relation to this, you can do so by following this link.

SARS has given assurances that the survey is confidential. For any enquiries or feedback, they have also provided this number: 082 4667105.

Keep well and stay safe.

Team SimplePay

President’s Speech – 14 December 2020

Last night the President addressed the nation for the second time this month on the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and how the Government plans to counter them. Some of the new rules announced are particularly important for businesses, so these are what the blog post today focuses on.

Masks and Social Distancing

The authorities are going to be more active in enforcing compliance with measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. You as managers and business owners are now responsible for ensuring that employees and customers entering your premises or vehicle are wearing masks.

Failure to enforce these rules on your employees or customers could expose you to fines or even six (6) months imprisonment.

Gatherings

Some of the key points on changes to permitted gatherings are as follows:

  • Gatherings are limited to 250 people outdoors or 100 people indoors.
  • All gatherings need to provide ventilation and hand sanitiser, as well as practice social distancing and mask wearing.
  • Certain hotspots for gatherings will be fully or partially closed across the festive season (16 December 2020 to 3 January 2021). Fully closed areas currently include the Eastern Cape and Garden Route.
  • Beaches and parks that aren’t closed will be open between 9am and 6pm.

It is important that you keep up to date with the latest news on any restrictions as rules are subject to change, dependent on increase or decrease of transmission in a region.

Hospitality and Goods

As the President suggested a second wave is possible, the focus of the Government is to try and maintain economic activity, whilst limiting the spread of the virus. This is reflected in the restrictions and rules that have been placed on the hospitality and tourism sectors.

The new rules are:

  • There is a national curfew between 11pm and 4am.
  • Restaurants and bars must close by 10pm to allow staff time to return home before curfew.
  • Alcohol can be sold in shops Monday to Thursday, between 10am and 6pm
  • Vineyards and wine tastings may resume on the weekends and may include purchases for offsite consumption. 

Although the above restrictions may limit your business, it is encouraging that emphasis is being placed on keeping the wheels of the economy turning.

You can read the President’s full speech by following this link.

We hope that this information has proved useful to you. As always, if you need to get in touch with a member of the team, you can contact us at [email protected]

Keep well and stay safe.

Team SimplePay

2020 Year in Review and Price Increase Deferment

Like most individuals and companies, SimplePay entered the new decade armed with big dreams and extensive plans for the year that lay ahead. As COVID-19 swept across the world, we were forced to temporarily pause our plans and adapt to the new challenges thrown our way. But one thing has stayed constant throughout: our customers remain our top priority.

It’s with this in mind that we have decided to defer our usual annual inflation-linked price adjustment which is normally effective on 1 January each year. Inflation-linked price adjustments are unfortunately unavoidable, as our sustainability depends on us staying on top of rising costs. However, we recognise that many of you have been through undue hardships in 2020 and we hope that by delaying our price adjustment by a few months, we are able to provide additional relief during these difficult economic circumstances. We will notify you in advance of the effective date for our price adjustment.

As we look back on the year, our team pulled together like never before to ensure that you were equipped to process payroll despite the changing payroll landscape. We rapidly responded to add system functionality as the government introduced various COVID-19 relief efforts and had ever-changing requirements for these. In addition, we assigned a dedicated team to blogging and creating help site articles so that you had easy access to information as it unfolded, and we spent countless hours on phones and emails providing support. We hope that our efforts made this year a little bit easier for you.

Despite the unexpected challenges that we faced in 2020, the SimplePay team still managed to roll out some fantastic new features. Although not an exhaustive list, we’d like to highlight a few of them:

As this year draws to a close, we’d once again like to take this opportunity to thank you for your loyalty, support and understanding throughout the year. We wish you all the best over the festive season and look forward to the positive opportunities that lie ahead in 2021.

Take care and stay safe

Team SimplePay

Updated App: Version 2.0

As part of our vision to simplify and revolutionise payroll, we’ve focused on creating an enjoyable user experience and a payroll system that is easily accessible. The release of our mobile app in March this year meant that employees can now access their payroll from their phone at any time – they’re essentially carrying their payslips around with them wherever they go.

We’re happy to announce the release of Version 2.0 of the app, available to Android and iOS users. Version 2.0 includes more functionality which lets you:

  • Submit a leave request (employees)
  • View leave requests (employees and approvers)
  • Update leave requests with comments (employees and approvers)
  • Upload documents to leave requests (employees and approvers)
  • Approve or deny the request (approvers)
  • View leave balances (employees and approvers)

These updates to the app mean that processing leave is now even easier. Employees can log a sick leave request while in bed, or use their mobile phone to take photos of their medical certificate and upload it into the app. Approvers can then approve the request while sipping on their morning coffee.

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Not a SimplePay user but want your employees to have access to their payslips and leave from their phones? Unfortunately our app is only available to SimplePay users, but we offer a free 30-day trial for you to examine just how easy payroll can be with SimplePay. You can sign up for our trial here.

Team SimplePay