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Tax deductions for Salaried Employees

While this may seem like a simple concept, let’s ensure that we’re all on the same page about who and what an employee is. An employee is any person (other than a company) who, an employer pays for work performed. Normally, an employee works full-time for one employer and has no other jobs.

GREAT! So, what does "remuneration" entail for tax purposes?

Any income that is paid to or is payable to a person, whether in cash or another form (such as a fringe benefit) and whether or not it is in exchange for services provided, is considered Remuneration.

Remuneration will include: salary, fee, bonus, wage, gratuity, pension, leave encashment, emolument, voluntary award, commission, annuity, stipend, overtime, superannuation allowance, retirement allowance, lump sum benefit payment, director's remuneration, etc.

Your income is not regarded as remuneration if you are self-employed, operating your own business, or working as a "freelancer" or independent contractor, in which case you are not an employee.

Now that we know whether or not you fall into the category of Employee, let’s talk about how much money you can earn before having to pay taxes!

- View SARS tax thresholds here to see how much you can earn, before having to pay tax.

Now that you know whether or not you have to pay tax, let's get into the different things you can claim back, if you fall into the bracket of people that have to pay tax. Let us complete and submit your tax return - HM Accounting Client Interest Form

You cannot claim these things as a tax deduction if you do not pay taxes.

Retirement Savings

If you contribute to a pension, provident or retirement annuity fund, you’ll qualify for a tax deduction up to 27.5% of your annual income, limited to no more than the actual contributions you made. The tax deduction is capped at R 350 000 per annum.

Note however, that you will need the tax certificate from your investment house to claim the deduction for RA contributions – if your employer pays it, your IRP5 won’t be sufficient.

Travel Expenses

If you’re receiving a travel allowance or the use of a car from your employer, you can claim the tax back for the kilometres you travelled for business purposes during the year.

To claim travel expenses as a tax deduction, you’ll need to keep an accurate, detailed logbook of all business-related travel and maintenance expenses like petrol, oil, service costs and even insurance. The kind of information SARS will want to see is your kilometre reading on the first day of the tax year (1 March), the closing kilometre reading on the last day of the tax year (end February) as well as the make, model, year and value of your vehicle, plus the number of kilometres used for business and personal use.

Ensure you also have the vehicle purchase contract, vehicle expense invoices and your logbook.


Any donations made to a registered Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) are tax deductible, up to a maximum of 10% of your taxable income. Any disallowed donation exceeding the threshold can be carried forward to the following year and deducted then, subject to the same limit. Remember that just because something is a non-profit organisation, doesn’t always make it a PBO. So, check with the organisation you’re giving money to if they’re allowed to issue you with a PBO certificate (S18A).

Wear and Tear - (Depreciation) on Personal Devices for Work Purposes

If you’re using a device bought and maintained in your personal capacity for work, you may be able to claim the depreciation on the device as a tax deduction.

This deduction requires a letter from your company stating that you have permission to use the device for work purposes, and that they’re not compensating you with an allowance for it.

Make sure that you have the purchase invoice for the asset (e.g laptop invoice), the letter from your employer and a calculation explaining the expense.

Please note that you can’t depreciate your car if you are an employee, as this deduction is only available for small assets used for work.

Home Office Expenses

If you’re a salaried employee but work mainly from home in a specifically dedicated space (like a study or office that isn’t used for any other purpose), you may be able to claim certain running costs associated with that space.

These include:

  • Rent

  • Rates

  • Interest on mortgage bond

  • Depreciation on office equipment

  • Electricity

  • Maintenance (repairs – not cosmetic improvements)

You can’t claim all your electricity expenses for example - the amount has to be proportional to the space used. You’ll need to have accurate records of these expenses to prove your claim.

Home office expenses can be tricky to justify.


Let us complete and submit your tax return - HM Accounting

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