There is widespread agreement among experts that the wealthy will face heavier taxes, as it is a "political necessity", but they differ on how soon they will be implemented.
Some, including South African Institute of Tax Practitioners CE Stiaan Klue, believe an announcement could be made later this month when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan tables his 2012-13 budget. He said there was scope for the top marginal rate for individuals - 40% for those earning R617 001 or more - to be increased to 42%.
High-income earners on R1.5-million or more annually could face a tax rate of 45%.
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Other experts, including economist Mike Schussler, argued that no change was imminent, but higher taxes on the wealthy were likely to come over the next few years. South Africa would be falling in line with international trends in France and elsewhere, he said.
Deloitte director Luke Barlow said the emphasis this year would be on compliance rather than new taxes to ensure that high net worth individuals paid their dues. But, in the longer term, he expected the government "to follow the global trend of more onerous taxation on the wealthy as a means to level out the inequality of income levels".
"With wealth taxes in the form of capital gains tax and estate duty already in place, we believe it’s unlikely the budget will introduce another wealth tax just yet," Mr Barlow said. "The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has (about) 2300 high net worth individuals on its register, yet it expects this figure to be higher, with the tax contributions of these individuals still perceived by SARS as being too low."
Mr Klue said a higher tax on top earners was essential, not because of the revenue it would generate, but for creating social cohesion and improving the integrity and morality of the tax system. "It is politically the right thing to do.
"The time is right for this. The poor are not happy that there is such a great disparity between low-and high-income earners.
"The population has to believe that a redistribution of wealth is taking place."
Article continues on page two: Mr Schussler discusses at what threshold of annual income this new tax will kick in...