Category Archives: Tax Law

SARS prescription

A2Imagine the following scenario: a taxpayer named Andrew is on his annual vacation for four weeks. On the fifth day of his vacation, he is lying carefree in the sun with his toes wiggled into the warm beach sand. A thought crosses his mind: perhaps he must check his email for a change.

Fast forward eight hours: Andrew logs in to his email. He gives the emails in his inbox a quick scan. Suddenly his stomach cramps. His heart beats faster. His hands start to sweat. His eye caught an email from SARS. Andrew opens the email and then the attachment reluctantly. The attachment contains a letter from SARS stating that they are going to re-assess his income tax for a specific tax year. The assessment for that particular tax year has been issued more than four years ago. Can SARS do this?

To be subjected to the prescription (or re-opening) of an assessment that has been finalised a few years ago already, is something taxpayers don’t even want to contemplate. However, in terms of the new Tax Administration Act, 28 of 2011 (TAA) SARS may go back more than three tax years into the past, prescribe and re-assess a tax return but only if the Commissioner is objectively, based on the facts, satisfied that both the following statutory requirements are met:

  1. There was fraud, misrepresentation or non-disclosure of material facts.

“Fraud” is defined as an unlawful act committed with the intention of misleading another person. The misleading information must cause the other person to act differently than they would have acted if they were not given the misleading information.

The legal meaning of “misrepresentation” refers to a false statement made by a person, regardless of whether the statement is made negilently, fraudulently or innocently. Misrepresentation does not include the expression of an opinion or an interpretation of law.The taxpayer must have made a positive statement which contained one or more facts that were untrue.

Note that innocence cannot be pleaded as an excuse for misrepresentation. Taxpayers thus have to make sure about the content of any statement they make regarding their tax affairs before making such a statement.

“Non-disclosure” means failure to reveal a fact if there is a duty to disclose it. Whether or not there is an intention to conceal it is irrelevant.

  1. The above fraud, misrepresentation or non-disclosure of the material facts was the direct cause that the taxpayer had been assessed for a lower amount of tax than if the taxpayer had disclosed these material facts referred to in section (i) above, to SARS.

There must be evidence of a direct link between the non-disclosure or misrepresentation of the material facts and the taxpayer paying too little tax. If the fraud, non-disclosure or misrepresentation of the material facts did not cause the taxpayer to be liable for less tax than he was assessed for without the material facts, the second requirement listed above is not met and SARS shouldn’t be able to apply this section of the TAA.

Generally the onus of proving that income is not taxable or that an expense is tax-deductable rests with the taxpayer. However, if SARS wants to apply the provisions of this section of the TAA, the onus of proving that the above requirements are met, rests with the Commissioner.

It seems that if the fraud, non-disclosure or misrepresentation of material facts did take place but did not cause the taxpayer to pay less tax than if SARS had been in possession of these material facts, and SARS would have assessed the taxpayer in exactly the same way as with the original assessment, despite SARS becoming aware of the material facts now, SARS cannot claim that the under-assessment was due to that fraud, non-disclosure or misrepresentation of the material facts.

If SARS wants to issue an additional assessment on the basis of requirement (i) above but requirement (ii) is not met, the taxpayer can deal with this situation using the objection and appeal provisions available.

In the light of SARS’s tools to go back and prescribe assessments for old tax years, it might be prudent to keep tax records for longer than the required retention periods prescribed by SARS.

Reference List:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Capital Gains Tax and the sale of a property

A1_GTCapital Gains Tax was introduced on 1 October 2001. Capital Gains Tax is payable on the profit a seller makes when disposing of his property.

What is meant by Capital Gain?

A person’s capital gain on an asset disposed of is the amount by which the proceeds exceed the base cost of that asset.

What is base cost?

The base cost of an asset is what you paid for it, plus the expenditure. The following can be included in calculating the base cost:

  1. The costs of acquiring the property, including the purchase price, transfer costs, transfer duty and professional fees e.g. attorney’s fees and fees paid to a surveyor and auctioneer.
  2. The cost of improvements, alterations and renovations which can be proved by invoices and/or receipts.
  3. The cost of disposing of the property, e.g. advertising costs, cost of obtaining a valuation for capital gains purposes, and estate agents’ commission.

How was base cost of assets held calculated before 1 October 2001?

If the property was acquired before 1 October 2001 you may use one of the following methods to value the property:

  1. 20% x (proceeds less expenditure incurred on or after 1 October 2001).
  2. The market value of the asset as at 1 October 2001, which valuation must have been obtained before 30 September 2004.
  3. Time-apportionment base cost method. (Original cost (proceeds – original cost) x number of years held before 1 October 2001) divided by (the number of years held before 1 October 2001 number of years held after 1 October 2001).

How is Capital Gains Tax paid?

Capital Gains Tax is not a separate tax from income tax. Part of a person’s capital gain is included in his taxable income. It is then subject to normal tax. A portion of the total of the taxpayer’s capital gain less capital losses for the year is included in the taxpayer’s taxable income and taxed in terms of normal tax tables.

How is Capital Gain calculated?

If you are an individual, the first R30 000 of your total capital gain will be disregarded. Then 33.3% of the capital gain made on disposal of the property must be included in the taxable income for the year of assessment in which the property is sold. When the property is owned by a company, a close corporation or an ordinary trust, 66.6% of the capital gain must be included in their taxable income.

Primary residence and Capital Gains Tax

As from 1 March 2012 the first R2 million of any capital gain on the sale of a primary residence is exempted from Capital Gains Tax. This exemption only applies where the property is registered in the name of an individual or in the name of a special trust. The property should furthermore not exceed 2 hectares. If the property is used partially for residential and partially for business purposes, an apportionment must be done.

If more than one person holds an interest in a primary residence, the exclusion will be in proportion to the interest held by each party. For example, if you and your spouse have an equal interest in the primary residence, you will each qualify for a primary residence exclusion of R1 million. You will also be entitled to the annual exclusion, currently R30 000.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Transfer of a property: Is vat or transfer duty payable?

A2A purchaser is responsible for payment of transfer cost when acquiring an immovable property, but it should further be established if the transaction is subject to the payment of VAT or transfer duty to SARS.

When an immovable property is transferred, either VAT or transfer duty is payable. To determine whether VAT or transfer duty is payable one should look at the status of the seller and the type of transaction.

VAT

If the seller is registered for VAT (Vendor) and he sells the property in the course of his business, VAT will be payable to SARS. A vendor is a person who runs a business and whose total taxable earnings per year exceed R1 000 000. He will then have to be registered for VAT. A further stipulation is that the property that is being sold must be related to his business from which he derives an income.

The Offer to Purchase should stipulate whether the purchase price includes or excludes VAT. If the Offer to Purchase makes no mention of the payment of VAT and the seller is a VAT vendor, it is then deemed that VAT is included and the seller will have to pay 14% of the purchase price to SARS. It is the seller’s responsibility to pay the VAT to SARS, except if the contract stipulates otherwise.

When a seller is not registered for VAT, but the purchaser is a registered VAT vendor, the purchaser will still pay transfer duty but can claim the transfer duty back from SARS after registration of the property.

Transfer duty

When the seller is not a registered VAT vendor it is almost certain that transfer duty will be payable on the transaction. A purchaser is responsible for payment of the transfer duty. Transfer duty is currently payable on the following scale:

  1. The first R750 000 of the value of the property is exempted from transfer duty.
  2. Thereafter transfer duty is levied at 3% of the value of the property between R750 000 and R1 250 000.
  3. Where the value of the property is from R1 250 001 up to R1 750 000, transfer duty will be R15 000 plus 6% on the value of the property above R1 250 000.
  4. If the value of the property falls between R1 750 001 and R2 250 000, transfer duty will be R45 000 plus 8% of the value of the property above R1750 000.
  5. On a property with a value of R2 250 001 and above transfer duty is R85 000 plus 11% on the value of the property above R2 250 000.

Transfer duty payable by an individual or a legal entity (trust, company or close corporation) is currently charged at the same rate.

Transfer duty is levied on the reasonable value of the property, which will normally be the purchase price, but should the market value be higher than the purchase price, transfer duty will be payable on the highest amount. Transfer duty is payable within six months from the date that the Offer to Purchase was signed.

In instances where a party obtains a property as an inheritance or as the beneficiary of a divorce settlement, the transaction will be exempted from payment of transfer duty.

Where shares in a company or a member’s interest in a close corporation or rights in a trust are transferred, the transaction will be subject to payment of transfer duty if the legal entity is the owner of a residential property.

Zero-rated transactions

This means that VAT will be payable on the transaction but at a zero rate. If both the seller and the purchaser are registered for VAT and the property is sold as a going concern, VAT will be charged at a zero rate, for instance when a farmer sells his farm as well as the cattle and the implements.

Exemption

Transfer duty, and not VAT, will be payable when a seller who is registered for VAT sells a property that was leased for residential purposes.

It is thus important for a purchaser to establish the status of the seller when buying a property. The seller who is registered for VAT should carefully peruse the purchase price clause in a contract before signing, to establish if VAT is included or excluded.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

Transfer of a property: Is VAT or transfer duty payable?

article-4-August-nlA Purchaser is responsible for payment of transfer cost when acquiring an immovable property, but it should further be established if the transaction is subject to the payment of VAT or transfer duty to SARS.

When an immovable property is transferred, either VAT or transfer duty is payable. To determine whether VAT or transfer duty is payable one should look at the status of the seller and the type of transaction.

VAT

If the seller is registered for VAT (Vendor) and he sells the property in the cause of his business, VAT will be payable to SARS.  A vendor is a person who runs a business and whose total taxable earnings per year exceed R1 000 000. He will then have to be registered for VAT. A further stipulation is that the person who is a vendor should be selling a property that is related to his business from which he derives an income.

The Offer to Purchase should stipulate whether the purchase price includes or excludes VAT. If the Offer to Purchase makes no mention of the payment of VAT and the seller is a VAT vendor, it is then deemed that VAT is included and the seller will have to pay 14% of the Purchase price to SARS. It is the seller’s responsibility to pay the VAT to SARS, except if the contract stipulates otherwise.

When a seller is not registered for VAT, but the purchaser is a registered VAT vendor, the purchaser will still pay transfer duty but can claim the transfer duty back from SARS after registration of the property.

TRANSFER DUTY

When the seller is not a registered VAT vendor it is almost certain that transfer duty will be payable on the transaction. A purchaser is responsible for payment of the transfer duty. Transfer duty is currently payable on the following scale:

  1. The first R600 000 of the value is exempted from transfer duty,
  2. Thereafter transfer duty is levied at 3% of the value up to R1 000 000.
  3. From R1 000 000 to R1 500 000, transfer duty will be R12 000 plus 5% on the value above R1 000 000.
  4. On R1 500 001 and above transfer duty is R37 000 plus 8% of the value above R1 500 000.

Transfer duty payable by an individual or a legal entity (trust, company or close corporation) is currently charged at the same rate.

Transfer duty is levied on the reasonable value of the property, which normally will be the purchase price, but should the market value be higher than the purchase price, transfer duty will be payable on the highest amount. Transfer duty is payable within six months from the date that the Offer to Purchase was signed.

In instances where a party obtains a property as an inheritance or as the beneficiary of a divorce settlement, the transaction will be exempted from payment of transfer duty.

Where shares in a company or a member’s interest in a close corporation or rights in a trust are transferred, the transaction will be subject to payment of transfer duty if the legal entity is the owner of a residential property.

ZERO-RATED TRANSACTIONS

This means that VAT will be payable on the transaction but at a zero rate. If both the seller and the purchaser are registered for VAT and the property is sold as a going concern, VAT will be charged at a zero rate, for instance when a farmer sells his farm as well as the cattle and the implements.

EXEMPTION

Transfer duty, and not VAT, will be payable when a seller who is registered for VAT sells a property that was leased for residential purposes.

It is thus important for a purchaser to establish the status of the seller when buying a property. The seller who is registered for VAT should carefully peruse the purchase price clause in a contract before signing, to establish if VAT is included or excluded.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

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Oordrag van eiendom: Is BTW of hereregte betaalbaar?

article-4-August-nlDie Koper is verantwoordelik vir die betaling van die oordragkoste wanneer ‘n onroerende eiendom aangekoop word, maar dan moet verder bepaal word of BTW of hereregte op die transaksie aan SAID betaalbaar is.

By die oordrag van onroerende eiendom is daar altyd  BTW of hereregte betaalbaar aan SAID. Daar word na die status van die verkoper en die aard van die transaksie gekyk ten einde te bepaal of BTW of hereregte betaalbaar sal wees.

BTW

Indien die Verkoper vir BTW geregistreer is en die eiendom verkoop in die loop van of ter bevordering van sy onderneming, is BTW op die transaksie betaalbaar. ‘n Ondernemer is ‘n persoon wat ‘n onderneming bedryf en wie se totale jaarlikse belasbare inkomste R1 000 000 oorskry, en is verplig om vir BTW te registreer. ‘n Verdere vereiste is dat die eiendom wat verkoop word verband moet hou met die onderneming waaruit die ondernemer sy inkomste verdien.

Die koopkontrak moet dan stipuleer of die koopprys BTW insluit of uitsluit. Indien die koopkontrak nie melding maak van BTW nie en die verkoper is vir BTW geregistreer, word BTW geag ingesluit te wees by die koopprys en sal die verkoper 14% van die koopprys aan SAID moet betaal. Die verkoper is verantwoordelik vir die oorbetaling van die BTW aan SAID tensy die kontrak bepaal dat dit die koper se verantwoordelikheid is .

Indien die koper vir BTW geregistreer is maar  die verkoper nie, sal hereregte betaalbaar wees maar kan die koper ná registrasie die hereregte wat betaal is van SAID terugeis.

HEREREGTE

As die verkoper nie vir BTW geregistreer is nie is dit redelik seker dat hereregte betaalbaar sal wees, en wel deur die koper. Die koers waarteen hereregte tans bereken word is soos volg :

  1. Die eerste R600 000 van die waarde is vrygestel van hereregte,
  2. Daarna is die hereregte 3% van die waarde tot en met R1 000 000
  3. Vanaf R1 000 001 – R1 500 000 is die hereregte R12 000 plus 5% van die waarde bo R1 000 000
  4. Op ‘n waarde van R1 500 001 en hoër is die hereregte R37 000 plus 8% van die            waarde bó R1 500 000

Die koers waarteen hereregte betaal word is tans dieselfde vir natuurlike- en regspersone (maatskappy, beslote korporasie of trust).

Daar is enkele gevalle waar hereregte nie betaalbaar is nie, o.a. waar ‘n party ‘n eiendom bekom  kragtens ‘n egskeidingsbevel of ‘n erfgenaam is uit ‘n boedel.

Hereregte word bereken op die billike waarde van die eiendom wat gewoonlik die koopsom is. Indien die markwaarde van die eiendom egter hoër as die koopsom is sal hereregte op die hoogste bedrag gehef word. Hereregte moet oorbetaal word aan SAID binne ses maande vanaf datum van kontraksluiting.

Wanneer  aandele in ‘n maatskappy, of die ledebelang in ‘n beslote korporasie, of die regte in ‘n trust oorgedra word, is die transaksie onderhewig aan die betaling van hereregte indien die regspersoon die eienaar van ‘n residensiële eiendom is.

NULKOERS -TRANSAKSIES 

Dit beteken dat BTW wel betaalbaar is maar teen ‘n koers van 0%. Waar beide die verkoper en koper vir BTW geregistreer is en die eiendom as ‘n lopende saak verkoop word, word BTW teen ‘n nulkoers gehef, bv. waar ‘n boer sy plaas tesame met die implemente en vee verkoop.

UITSONDERING

Waar die verkoper vir BTW geregistreer is en sy besigheid die koop en verkoop van eiendom en die verhuring daarvan vir woondoeleindes behels, en hy die verhuurde eiendom verkoop, is daar nie BTW betaalbaar nie maar wel hereregte.

Dit is dus belangrik vir die koper om met die sluiting van die kontrak navraag te doen oor die BTW-status van die verkoper. Die verkoper wat vir BTW geregistreer is moet met kontraksluiting die koopprysklousule deeglik nagaan om seker te maak of die verkoopprys BTW insluit of uitsluit.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.

Kliek hier om die volledige vrywaring te sien

Capital Gains Tax and the sale of a property

article4nlCapital Gains Tax was introduced on 1 October 2001. Capital Gains Tax is payable on the profit a seller makes when disposing of his property.

What is meant by Capital Gain

A person’s capital gain on an asset disposed of is the amount by which the proceeds exceed the base cost of that asset.

What is base cost

The base cost of an asset is what you paid for it, plus the expenditure. The following can be included in calculating the base cost:

  • The costs of acquiring the property, including the purchase price, transfer costs, transfer duty and professional fees e.g. attorneys fees and fees paid to a surveyor and auctioneer.
  • The cost of improvements, alterations and renovations which can be proved by invoices and/ or receipts.
  • The cost of disposing of the property, e.g. advertising costs, cost of obtaining a valuation for capital gains purposes, and estate agents commission .

How is base cost calculated of assets held before 1 October 2001

If the property was acquired before 1 October 2001 you may use one of the following methods to value the property :

  • 20% x (proceeds less expenditure incurred on or after 1 October 2001).
  • The market value of the asset as at 1 October 2001, which valuation must have been obtained before 30 September 2004.
  • Time -apportionment base cost method. Original cost + (proceeds – original cost) x number of years held before 1 October 2001divided by the number of years held before 1 October 2001 + number of years held after 1 October 2001).

How is Capital Gains Tax paid

Capital Gains Tax is not a separate tax from income tax. Part of a person’s capital gain is included in his taxable income. It is then subject to normal tax. A portion of the total of the taxpayer’s capital gain less capital losses for the year is included in the taxpayer’s taxable income and taxed in terms of normal tax tables.

How is Capital Gain calculated

If you are an individual, the first R30 000 of your total capital gain will be disregarded. Then 33.3% of the capital gain made on disposal of the property must be included in the taxable income for the year of assessment in which the property is sold. When the property is owned by a company, a close corporation or an ordinary trust, 66,6% of the capital gain must be included in their taxable income.

Primary residence and Capital Gains Tax

As from 1 March 2012 the first R2 million of any capital gain on the sale of a primary residence is exempted from Capital Gains Tax. This exemption only applies where the property is registered in the name of an individual or in the name of a special trust. The property should furthermore not exceed 2 hectares.

If the property is used partially for residential and partially for business purposes, an apportionment must be done. If more than one person holds an interest in a primary residence, the exclusion will be in proportion to the interest held by each party. For example, if you and your spouse have an equal interest in the primary residence, you will each qualify for a primary residence exclusion of R1 million. You will also be entitled to the annual exclusion, currently R30 000.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

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Ondernemingsredding – SARS ook saam in die tou.

G&T_SARSSARS het nog altyd, tydens sekwestrasies en likwidasies voorkeur geniet ten opsigte van hulle aansprake en eise ingevolge die toepaslike insolvensie wetgewing.Dividende word eers aan versekerde skuldeisers (“verbandhouers”) en daarna gedeeltelik aan personeel toegeken. Hierna is die Suid – Afrikaanse Inkomstediens as skuldeiser wat statutêre voorkeur geniet, die volgende in die rangorde van betalings. Dit bring mee dat in gevalle waar SARS ‘n groot eis geniet, dit onwaarskynlik raak dat die gewone skuldeisers ‘n gewone dividend sal ontvang. Hierdie geval kan goed uitgedruk word in die volgende stelreël: “You have about a 5% chance of getting about 5 cents in the Rand”.Jou kanse op ‘n dividend het verbeter, indien…In die geval waar die maatskappy in finansiële nood verkeer en formeel in ondernemingsredding geplaas word, stel dit algemene skuldeisers in ‘n beter posisie. Die Hoë Hof het onlangs beslis dat SARS tydens ondernemingsredding sy voorkeurposisie verloor. SARS word dus as gelyke en gewone skuldeiser hanteer vir doeleindes van dividende sowel as stemreg tydens vergaderings van skuldeisers met betrekking tot ondernemingsredding.

In die praktyk beteken dit dat selfs wanneer ‘n ondernemingsredding onsuksesvol is, behoort die kanse groter te wees dat gewone konkurrente skuldeisers wel ‘n dividend sal ontvang.

SARS se posisie gedurende ondernemingsredding word tans deur die Maatskappywet gereguleer. Dit is dus voorsienbaar dat SARS druk op die wetgewer sal plaas om die Maatskappywet te wysig om dit in lyn te bring met hul voorkeurposisie ingevolge die Insolvensiewet. Totdat dit gebeur, is hierdie ‘n belangrike faktor waarom skuldeisers ondernemingsredding bo likwidasie van ‘n skuldeiser kan verkies.

© DotNews, 2005-2013. Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.

Business rescue – SARS told to stand in line (for now).

G&T_SARSSARS has always enjoyed a privileged position in liquidation matters because its claims are “preferent”, in other words whatever money may be left in the liquidation pot after secured creditors and staff claims have been settled goes to SARS first.

As a result concurrent creditors, who only get a look in if there’s anything left after SARS has had its fill, will normally have little hope of receiving any dividend at all. As an old rule of thumb puts it: “You have about a 5% chance of getting about 5 cents in the Rand”.

Your recovery odds just got better, if…

If – and only if – a distressed company is in business rescue rather than liquidation, your odds of getting at least something back just got better. The High Court has recently held that in rescue proceedings, SARS loses its preference and joins the queue with the other unsecured creditors – not only does it lose its liquidation preference, but it has no special voting rights when a business rescue plan is under consideration.

What that means in practice is this – even if a rescue attempt fails in its primary objective of restoring the company to viability and paying all creditors in full, there is at least now more chance of a reasonable payment accruing to creditors generally.

Of course SARS’ loss of preference in a business rescue situation stems from the current wording of the Companies Act, which could well now be amended to put SARS back at the head of the queue. But perhaps that won’t happen, and anyway for now at least it seems that concurrent creditors have one more reason to prefer a genuine (and viable) rescue attempt over final liquidation.

© DotNews, 2005-2013. This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

‘n Lening van sewe miljoen rand aan ‘n vriend: Die reg en die risiko’s!

G&T_Lening“Be careful about lending a friend money. It may damage her memory” (Anoniem)

Daar is baie potensiële slaggate wanneer jy ‘n lening aan ‘n vriend maak. ‘n Minder bekende slaggat word deur die Nasionale Kredietwet geskep. Indien daar nie aan die vereistes van die Nasionale Kredietwet voldoen word nie, loop jy die risiko van aansienlike verliese.

Dit sluit eerstens in dat jou leningsooreenkoms ongeldig verklaar kan word en tweedens hou dit die gevaar in dat jy al jou regte om uitstaande gelde in te vorder, kan verloor. Hierdie risiko’s is duidelik uitgewys in ‘n onlangse beslissing van die Grondwetlike Hof.

Die feite

  • ‘n Boer in Namibië het vir sy vriend R 7 000 000.00 (Sewe Miljoen Rand) geleen om eiendom in Kaapstad te ontwikkel. Die partye het drie geskrewe leningsooreenkomste aangegaan.
  • Op daardie stadium was die boer nie as ‘n kredietverskaffer geregistreer nie, soos vereis volgens die Nasionale Kredietwet nie.
  • Al het die verskaffing van krediet nie deel uitgemaak van die boer se gewone sakebedrywighede nie, vereis die Nasionale Kredietwet steeds dat hy as ‘n kredietverskaffer geregistreer moes wees. Die boer het geen kennis van hierdie vereiste gehad nie en het ook geen bedoeling gehad om die Nasionale Kredietwet te oortree nie.
  • Die vriend kon die boer nie teen die ooreengekome datum terugbetaal nie. Die boer het hierna by die Hoë Hof aansoek gedoen vir die sekwestrasie van die vriend se boedel.

Die regsposisie

Die Nasionale Kredietwet maak voorsiening vir die volgende:

  1. ‘n Verskeidenheid van situasies word in die Nasionale Kredietwet gelys wat jou sal verplig om as kredietverskaffer te registreer indien jy daaraan voldoen. In die onderhawige geval moes die boer as kredietverskaffer registreer, omdat die leningsbedrag die vasgestelde drempel van R 500 000.00 oorskry het.
  2. Die feit dat die lener ‘n vriend was, speel hier geen rol nie. Dit is van belang dat die lening binne die definisie van “kredietooreenkoms” val en dat die partye ‘n oënskynlike “armlengte leningsooreenkoms” aangegaan het.
  3. As jy versuim om as kredietverskaffer te registreer, verplig die Nasionale Kredietwet die hof om –
    a. die ooreenkoms nietig te verklaar, asook
    b. ‘n bevel te maak dat jy jou reg om vergoeding aan die staat verbeur.

    In die onderhewige geval het hierdie bepaling onder die loep gekom. Die Hoë Hof en die Grondwetlike Hof het dit as ongrondwetlik verklaar aangesien dit indruis teen ons grondwetlike reg teen die verbod op die arbitrêre ontneming van eiendom.

Die praktiese gevolge van hierdie uitspraak

Tot tyd en wyl hierdie ongeldige kansellasie/ ontnemingsklousule gewysig word, sal die gemenereg van toepassing wees. Die Hof bevestig dat die ongeldige ooreenkomste ongetwyfeld nietig is, maar bevind dan dat die kredietverskaffer wel in kwalifiserende gevalle die leningsbedrag op grond van ongeregverdigde verryking van die verbruiker sal kan terug eis: “The credit provider would be able to claim successfully from the consumer on the basis of unjustified enrichment, if the requirements of the action are met. This could include the consideration of the circumstances of each case and especially the degree of blameworthiness of the unregistered credit provider, in order to reach a just outcome”.

Indien die wet vereis dat jy as kredietverskaffer moet registreer, is jy verplig om dit te doen. Versuim jy om dit te doen, sal al jou kredietooreenkomste nietig wees. Jy sal dan individueel by die hof moet aansoek doen om jou toe te laat om jou lenings te verhaal, maar dit bly binne die diskresie van die hof. Indien die hof jou nie te hulp gaan kom nie, sal jy geen verdere verhaalsreg hê nie. Daarom is dit belangrik dat jy eerder vanuit die staanspoor behoorlike advies verkry en jou handelinge dienooreenkomstig rig.

Selfs indien jy suksesvol is met die verkryging van ‘n hofbevel, beteken dit nog nie dat jy jou geld gaan terugkry nie. Soos in hierdie geval kan jou vriend bankrot verklaar word en gaan jy dan slegs ‘n gewone eis teen sy insolvente boedel hê, met geen waarborg dat jy uiteindelik enige dividend gaan ontvang nie.

Geen wonder dat Shakespeare as volg waarsku nie: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend”.

© DotNews, 2005-2013. Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.

Lending to a friend: The R7 million, the law and the risks!

G&T_Lening“Be careful about lending a friend money. It may damage her memory.” (Anonymous)

Of the many potential pitfalls inherent in making loans to friends, one of the more dangerous (but lesser-known ones) is that presented by the requirements of the National Credit Act (NCA).

It’s a serious risk – failure to comply with the NCA’s many requirements exposes you to substantial losses, including invalidity of your loan agreement and the possibility of losing all your rights of recovery. A recent Constitutional Court judgment illustrates this point.

The facts

  • A Namibian farmer lent his friend R 7 000 000.00 (Seven Million Rand) for property development in Cape Town per three written loan agreements.
  • The lender wasn’t registered as a credit provider at the time as required by the NCA.
  • He wasn’t in the business of providing credit, was unaware of the requirement to register and had no intention of violating the NCA.
  • When the dates for the repayment of the loans had passed, the borrower was unable to pay, he accordingly advised the lender who then applied to the High Court for sequestration of his friend’s estate.

The law

The NCA provides that:

  1. You are required to register as a “credit provider” in any of a variety of situations set out in the NCA. In this particular case, registration of the lender was required because the amount of the loan exceeded the set threshold (currently R 500 000.00)
  2. It is irrelevant that the borrower is a friend – what counts is whether the loan falls within the definition of “credit agreement” and whether the parties are “dealing at arm’s length”
  3. If you fail to register as a credit provider, the NCA as it stands compels courts (they have no discretion) to both
    a) Declare your agreement void, and
    b) Order that your right to reclaim the loan be cancelled or forfeited to the state.It is this cancellation/forfeiture provision that was under scrutiny in this case. And, as ruled originally by the High Court and now confirmed by the Constitutional Court, it is invalid – unconstitutional for breach of our Constitution’s prohibition against “arbitrary deprivation of property.

The practical effect of that ruling, and a warning

In practice, until the invalid cancellation / forfeiture provision is amended, the common law will apply. What that means is, as the Court summarised it, that unlawful agreements are still void, but “The credit provider would be able to claim successfully from the consumer on the basis of unjustified enrichment, if the requirements of the action are met. This could include the consideration of the circumstances of each case and especially the degree of blameworthiness of the unregistered credit provider, in order to reach a just outcome.”

The critical issue is that – if you are obliged to register as a “credit provider” in terms of the NCA – you should do so. If you don’t, your agreement is void. And, although now you can at least ask a court to exercise its discretion to allow you to recover your loan, the court may well decline to do so – in which event you will lose everything. There are grey areas here so take advice in doubt.

A further practical issue is that even if you succeed in court, you could still lose everything anyway. As happened in this case, if your friend is bankrupt you are left with a (probably worthless) concurrent claim against his/ her insolvent estate.

Perhaps avoid all that by heeding Shakespeare’s warning: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend”.

© DotNews, 2005-2013. This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.