Tax policy gap in southern African countries: Reflections on indirect tax coordination and tax diversity in SADC post Covid-19
Author: Puseletso Letete
Affiliations: BA Law, LLB (NUL), LLM (UCT), PhD (Edinburgh). Professor, School of Law, University of South Africa until 31 August 2022
Source: Journal of Comparative Law in Africa, Volume 9 Issue 2, p. 1 – 32
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) tax policy on indirect tax coordination has mainly been guided by an approach toward the harmonisation of tax bases, the convergence of tax rates and the movement of taxes toward tax uniformity. This approach is one envisaged by the member states and reflected in Annex 3 of the Protocol on Finance and Investment. However, in recent studies, writers in this area opine that countries within a regional integration economic area (REC) should instead adopt an approach characterised by tax diversity of the indirect tax systems, as well as mutual coordination and cooperation to contribute towards economic integration. Recent literature proposes that tax coordination of indirect taxes must consider other options that move away from the uniformity of taxes, rates, and tax base. This paper considers this approach of placing tax diversity at the centre of the SADC tax policy of coordination of indirect taxes, particularly VAT and excise taxes. The paper reflects on the previous approaches that have characterised the implementation of the existing legal framework in tax coordination in the SADC and critically examines the implementation of the VAT and excise taxes guidelines and their significance in achieving tax coordination of indirect taxes. The article emphasises the importance of the SADC realising its goal of coordinating indirect taxes, particularly post Covid-19, due to the imminent need to raise more revenue from cross-border trade in the SADC member states to contribute toward the economic growth of member states.