The nature of interest–free loans and the tax implications thereof
The tax world as we knew it was turned upside down on 13 September 2007 when the Supreme Court of Appeal (“SCA”) announced its decision to deem the right to use an interest-free loan as an amount that accrued to the taxpayers in the case Commissioner for South African Revenue Service v Brummeria Renaissance (Pty) Ltd and others 69 SATC 205. The findings of SCA brought about a “great deal of consternation in the business world” (Loubser, 2007:20). Due to the controversy as a result of this case, SARS drafted an Interpretation Note that illustrates the reasoning and tax treatment of an interest-free loan. On 30 June 2010, Interpretation Note No 58 was finally issued by SARS, providing guidance with regard to “an amount” that “accrues” to a taxpayer for the purposes of the gross income definition. This Interpretation Note will have a significant impact on a number of taxpayers. The purpose of this study is to understand the nature of an interest-free loan and identify its tax implications. The methodology followed in this study will be that of qualitative research. This will be conducted through analyzing the nature of a loan, specifically an interest-free loan, the gross income definition, including the value and timing of such amount, and whether a deduction may be claimed in respect of an interest-free loan. Notwithstanding the above, the study also includes an investigation of other taxes inter alia capital gains tax, donations tax, value-added tax, secondary tax on companies and newly proposed dividends tax.