Willem Petzer: Getting SA to fight back against taxpayer abuse
Petzer | Willem

Willem Petzer: Getting SA to fight back against taxpayer abuse

Willem Petzer is an activist who has put together the Taxpayers’ Union of South Africa. The organisation aims to fight back against the abuse of taxpayer money. With the recent events that took place in KZN and Gauteng, Petzer tells BizNews founder Alec Hogg that myriad new members joined during the time of civil unrest. “People are tired of paying tax to an incompetent government that wastes tax money via corruption and mismanagement.” Petzer tells BizNews about what the organisation has been working on. “There is a way that businesses and employees can work together in order to pay as little tax as possible.” – Jarryd Neves

Willem Petzer on the civil unrest that recently gripped parts of South Africa:

One thing that we realised during that time was that people are tired of paying taxed to an incompetent government that wastes money via corruption and mismanagement. All the things that happened with the riots actually highlighted just how incapable the state is, unable to perform its core duties to its citizens – not just its secondary duties, like healthcare – but the very essence of what makes a state a state, and that is protecting its citizens.

The state was unable to protect its citizens during the riots. Community members – the citizens themselves – had to jump in and do that protection themselves. That being said, South Africans are absolutely tired of paying taxes into the system. That’s why we want to help pay as little as possible taxes, to put it simply.

On what the Taxpayers’ Union of South Africa has been working on:

We – as the directors – have said to each other that we don’t have as much time to build these massive legal arguments. We need to start making a big difference today. We’ve actually started working on something where we want to help all individuals and people who draw a salary – like employees – to pay as little as possible taxes. There is a way that businesses and employees can work together, in order to pay as little as possible. We want to get as many businesses on board with this.

I think South Africa is a unique case in the sense that most places in the world, like America, where people pay less taxes than they should – Jeff Bezos, for example. People don’t like it because they think it’s unfair. There is, philosophically speaking, a social contract between the citizens of a country and the government – where the citizens need to pay and the government needs to provide what they should. People see as an individual like Jeff Bezos as in breach of that social contract. In South Africa, the shoes is on the other foot. Here it is the state that is in breach of that social contract.

On using a ‘salary forfeit’:

Here, people want to see what Jeff Bezos did in order to pay, basically, zero taxes – and we want to educate people on how to actually do that. There is a legal way. One of our directors has helped a few businesses [rework] their payment structure in a way that is legally known as a salary forfeit. We want to get all our members to actually restructure their businesses in such a way that employees pay as little as possible taxes.

For example, a company can have benefits for its employees like medical insurance. The law is written in a much broader sense, in that there are more benefits that a company can give its employees. What we want to is put together, for each business, a unique individual plan to restructure the salary forfeit where they pay their employees less cash and more benefits. At the end of the day, the expenses will work out exactly the same as it would have, had they paid the expenses as a salary – but the employees will pay far less tax. I think that is the first crucial step we are going to work towards in the next month or two, in order to get the businesses on board. We have the team that can help them set up the structure that can help them. 

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