How to Maximise Returns: Dividends Tax for Investors and Businesses

Dividends Tax for Investors and Businesses
Dividends Tax for Investors and Businesses. Image by Freepik.com

As an entrepreneur, you’ve put in the hard work getting your business off the ground. Now that it’s showing a profit, it’s time to think about dividends, and getting a return on your investment. But where to start, and what about tax implications?

Let’s start with the basics. When a company makes profits, they can either reinvest them in the business or share a portion with investors – the shareholders. That shared portion is a dividend. However, as with all things – there are tax implications. When your company declares dividends to its shareholders, a 20% withholding tax on the dividends declared to individuals and trusts is payable to SARS. This amount is payable by the company at the end of the month following the month in which the dividend was paid. If the beneficial owner of the dividend is a company, the 20% tax is not applicable, but a dividend tax return must still be submitted to SARS.  Different thresholds and tax brackets may affect the final amount of tax you owe on dividends.

Dividends tax can impact the overall return on investments, and understanding its intricacies and leveraging advantages where possible, is key to maximising your profits in the long run.  Let’s look at some easy ways in which you can get the most out of your dividends:

1. Holding Period Optimisation

One approach to potentially reducing dividends tax is through holding period optimisation. In South Africa, this often refers to broader tax planning rather than direct dividends tax rate changes. While some countries offer lower tax rates for dividends held for a longer period (e.g., long-term capital gains), South Africa generally maintains a flat 20% dividends tax rate.

Holding period optimisation can play a role in a broader tax planning context. For instance, by holding shares for longer periods, you could benefit from other tax advantages, such as reduced capital gains tax when selling shares. Talk to an expert to get the advice that you need here.

 

2. Utilising Tax-Efficient Investment Vehicles

Another strategy is to invest through tax-efficient vehicles such as retirement accounts or trusts. Here’s how these can help:

  • Retirement Accounts: Contributions to retirement funds like pension funds, provident funds, and retirement annuities are generally tax-deductible in South Africa, up to certain limits, and these funds are often exempt from dividends tax. This means that distributions received by these accounts aren’t subject to the 20% dividends tax, allowing your dividends to grow tax-free.
  • Trusts: Trusts can be used as a tax planning tool to manage and distribute your income in a more tax-efficient manner. By setting up a trust, it’s possible to structure income flows to beneficiaries in a way that reduces overall tax liability.

 

3. Timing of Dividend Distributions

Timing can also play an important role in minimising your tax liabilities:

  • Aligning with Personal Tax Situation: For instance, if you think that you might be in a lower tax bracket in a specific year, it might be a good idea to line up your dividend distributions accordingly.
  • Strategic Company Dividends Planning: Companies can plan dividend payout so that they align with broader financial goals and tax strategy. This means considering factors like cash flow, financial statements, and shareholder expectations before pulling the trigger.

While these strategies can help you manage your personal or company dividends tax, it’s still crucial to work with a tax advisor or financial planner to ensure compliance with local tax laws and to avoid running into possible issues of compliance or non-payment. Also keep in mind that tax regulations can change, so staying updated with current legislation is essential.

 

About Outsourced CFO (OCFO)

Optimising dividends tax is critical for maximising returns on your investments. By implementing strategies like holding period optimisation, using tax-efficient investment vehicles, and leveraging tax credits, you can reduce your tax liability and boost your financial success. Don’t forget the importance of compliance and accurate reporting to avoid penalties. Take proactive steps today to manage your dividends tax and pave the way for a successful financial future. If you need advice on dividends and the related tax implications, then reach out to the team at Outsourced CFO, your on-call financial partners.