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Service Delivery Protest
A service delivery protester holds up a sign saying "Where is better life if you promise us?"
AfriForum is a civil society group focusing on Afrikaans rights.

In a recent article, AfriForum aptly asked why taxpayers should pay when the government isn’t fulfilling its obligations. It is a pertinent question, and more appropriate than many might think. While it is deemed normal to unquestionably pay tax in a democracy, it is not the case elsewhere. In the real world, if a contractor fails to fulfil his/her obligations, they are punished. They are either not paid or they are sued in order for the employer to regain paid funds. The state should be no different.

The government has two obligations. First, its natural obligation as a defender of its citizens and second, its respective promises. Our government fails to achieve both.

Our tax money goes to the state mainly to pay for the means to defend us from internal and external threats. Our crime rate is a good indication that the former has failed, and the fact that our military is underfunded and incompetent shows the failure of the latter. The crime rate is directly correlated with the failure of government to formulate a competent police force and an unemployment stat which could easily be remedied by a liberalised labour market. The army, while not an obviously pressing issue at the moment, is still important and a legitimate function of government. It needs more attention in terms of funding and competency.

South African politics is characterised by populists who promise a lot without ever providing any of it. Service delivery and mass protests are good indicators to show the displeasure of an electorate who feels deceived by what can only be described as lies. There is no accountability for these politicians as they continue their cushy political careers without ever having to face the unruly mobs they helped create.

John Locke argued that when a government oversteps its authority, or violates its obligations to its country, then the country is given carte blanche to oppose it. In this manner, AfriForum is perfectly correct in suggesting that we owe the South African government nothing.

It has proven time and time again that it cannot fulfil these simple obligations, with or without taxes. Effectively, a tax revolt would do little as the vast majority of South Africans receive no help from police, and have to rely on themselves or private security. In addition, most of the promises the state makes are illegitimate uses of tax money, as they go past the legitimate boundaries of government. Even if we make concessions and allow spending on these functions, we can still see that the state is failing to fulfil even these obligations, as evidenced by service delivery protests complaining due to the lack of said promises being kept.

Thus, a tax revolt is legitimate. The cashier is refusing to process our groceries. The plumber has broken the toilet. The state makes things worse without even trying to make them better. If there is any time to stick it to SARS, this is now – and if enough people do it, then the state may actually do something decent about it.

  • David Strachan

    That’s great but how do we do it? Most taxes are taken at source by the companies that employ us. What are we supposed to do?

  • It’s easy to say but extremely difficult to put in action.
    You automatically pay VET when purchasing goods.
    If you work for an organisation the taxes are taken off your salary before you even receive it.
    And so it all goes.
    If there is a way to avoid pay tax, we best find it and quickly.

    • John Parker

      Work with cash and refuse to pay the VAT portion. Use local contractors and small businesses. If 80% of Soweto does not pay rates and taxes or electricity, it is time to
      put pressure on the Failed State.

  • Mervyn Wynick

    I’m in come show this Government that they cannot spend our Taxes to ENRICH THEMSELVES but We need to make a BIIIIIG STATEMENT so show YOUR HAND BY ADVISING IF YOU INTEND WITHOLDING TAXES

  • Ronelle

    How do we with hold tax if it’s directly deducted from our salaries? Nobody seems to be able to answer this question.

    • Nicholas Woode-Smith

      In this case, a Tax Revolt will have to rely on businesses. Problem is that when done alone, a business will suffer. Companies will need to band together in order to form a united front.

      • John Parker

        And big business in this country are anc’s sceberesh (whore). Pandering to their every whim. In Nazi Germany many of the large corporates helped support the Nazi’s, just because money was to be made.

        • Nicholas Woode-Smith

          Of course. It’s safe to stick with the devil you know, but as the ANC radicalise, or the EFF gain power, they will be losing the support of big business. The threat to their self-interest will be too great.

  • John Hill

    Difficult. But mass action – the RMF & the FMF campaigns by university students – & – the current campaign by parents to keep schools closed in PE until specific conditions are met – seems to be the easy ahead.

    One route is for employees to inform their employers they are Jo longer prepared to pay PAYE tax.

    Another is for companies, (employers) to do the same.

    Nothing short of a revolt is going to work.

    Then,of course, the ANC might see the light and recall Zuma before it is to late.

    • John Parker

      Don’t think removing Zuma will sanatise the rest of the anc. He is the white pusy head on the big boil called the anc.

  • Colleen

    If we dont pay tax we are blocked by banks etc from doing business. Everything you do as a business requires tax clearances. Small businesses are taxed so heavily that we cant employ more people even if we want to and they cant get ahead because we are taxed most of our profit. So unemployment goes up and businesses close. Wake up ANC!

    • John Parker

      Your statement is not entirely true. You only need a tax clearance to do business with the State. Secondly, you don’t need a tax clearance to operate a bank account. The anc don’t give a continental, hence the problems, we now face. So telling them to wake up is a moot point.