Inflation vs. Income – How South Africa’s Frozen Tax Brackets Will Affect Everyday Wage Earners

Inflation vs. Income – How South Africa’s Frozen Tax Brackets Will Affect Everyday Wage Earners

In the aftermath of South Africa’s recent budget speech, the focus has predominantly been on zero levy increases and state-owned enterprise bailouts.

However, a warning has been sounded by tax experts about the less conspicuous yet impactful aspect – the creeping tax brackets that will adversely affect low- to middle-income earners.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s decision to freeze personal income tax brackets for the next three years has sparked concerns about the financial burden it places on those least able to bear it.

Creeping Tax Brackets and Their Impact:

While the absence of levy increases was met with approval, the repercussions of stagnant tax brackets are now coming to the forefront.

By not adjusting the tax brackets for inflation, the government stands to generate revenue, but this maneuver effectively results in higher taxes for individuals in the low- to middle-income brackets.

The 2024 budget speech disclosed that personal income tax brackets would remain unchanged, prompting concerns about the hidden tax hike on the economically vulnerable.

South Africa’s Income Tax Breakdown:

The current threshold for personal income tax is set at R95,750 per year or R8,000 per month.

The freeze on tax brackets means that inflation will propel some earners into higher tax brackets, compelling them to pay more despite the tax rates remaining constant.

Additionally, individuals just below the R8,000 per month threshold may find themselves newly subjected to income tax.

The implications of these creeping tax brackets could result in a significant financial strain on households already grappling with economic challenges.

Expert Insights and Strategies:

Tax expert Carla Rossouw from Allan Gray emphasizes that this strategy is an effective, albeit less noticeable, means of increasing government revenue.

The cumulative effect is projected to bolster revenue by R58.2 billion, diverging from the National Treasury’s previous medium-term projections.

Rossouw underscores the subtlety of the impact, noting that salary increases to match inflation may paradoxically leave individuals financially worse off.

The unnoticed consequences of South Africa’s creeping tax brackets are now being brought to light, shedding a sobering perspective on the seemingly neutral budget measures.

The decision to keep personal income tax brackets stagnant poses a particular threat to those already facing financial strain.

As households navigate this economic challenge, the call for awareness about potential tax bracket shifts becomes crucial.

The expert advice to scrutinize salary increases and explore tax-free incentives for career advancement provides a pragmatic approach amid these financial intricacies.


In the labyrinth of budgetary intricacies, the silent impact of South Africa’s creeping tax brackets emerges as a concern for low- to middle-income earners.

The financial burden, although subtle, poses a significant challenge to households, necessitating a nuanced approach to salary negotiations and career incentives.

As individuals and employers grapple with these implications, a broader conversation about equitable fiscal policies comes to the forefront.

South Africa’s economic landscape is undergoing a complex transformation, and the intricacies of tax policies are pivotal in shaping the financial well-being of its citizens.

The cautionary note sounded by tax experts underscores the need for a comprehensive understanding of the implications of seemingly innocuous decisions within the budget.

As the public grapples with the aftermath of these announcements, the dialogue around fiscal responsibility and the equitable distribution of economic burdens becomes increasingly vital.

TDPel Media

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