Discussion on tax rebates for private security expenses welcomed

Farmers’ union, TAU SA, has welcomed the Treasury’s undertaking to discuss the possibility of implementing a tax rebate for taxpayers’ private security expenses with trade union Solidarity.

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The union cited government’s failure to effectively provide constitutionally-mandated safety and security for SA citizens, as the reason behind this demand. Piet le Roux, senior economic researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), reported that the Treasury’s chief director of communications, Jabulani Sikhakhane, had asked to meet with Solidarity on the subject after finance minister Pravin Gordhan was swamped with petitions from people supporting the trade union’s call.

“After the SRI’s presentation [to them], Sikhakhane and Fuad Cassim, special advisor to Minister Gordhan, undertook to investigate the trade union’s proposal for a tax rebate. It was also agreed to meet again on the issue in March,” said Le Roux. TAU SA explained that it supported the meetings because farmers, especially those in rural areas, had to spend large sums on protecting themselves, their families, their staff and their assets against criminals.

The farmers’ union added that, due to logistical challenges, even private security companies struggled to effectively protect these rural farmers. “These realities result in farmers being forced to accept responsibility for introducing measures to protect life and property.” The Institute for Security Studies has determined that, based on 2011 statistics, the possibility of a farmer being murdered was three times higher than the national average murder rate and twice as high as that of police officials on duty, said Chris van Zyl, TAU SA’s expert on rural safety and security.

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After hearing news of the planned meetings, another farmers’ union, Agri SA, reiterated its previous position that while it supported the principles of Solidarity’s call for the tax rebates, it remained concerned that, should the go-ahead be given for these rebates, government would seek to recoup its expenses by raising other taxes. Agri SA stated that farmers, and other SA citizens, were already overburdened by existing government-mandated taxes and levies.

Solidarity said that it would be listening closely to Gordhan’s 2013/2014 budget speech to hear if any reference was made to tax rebates on private security expenses. “Obviously, the minister can’t give any final undertakings in the upcoming budget speech,” Le Roux said. “Solidarity believes that next year’s budget speech will, however, be a measure of the seriousness with which Treasury is viewing this reasonable request for a tax rebate.” Solidarity encouraged taxpayers to continue to petition Gordhan on the subject through www.giveitback.co.za