Small business support during COVID-19

The uncertainty and financial strain being placed on entrepreneurs and small business owners by the global coronavirus pandemic is being alleviated somewhat by a host of public and private support schemes.

Small business owners and informal traders are amongst the South Africans who are most heavily impacted by the lockdown. In order to get through this difficult time, these business owners can take advantage of a number of interventions that government has put in place to assist them.

SMME Debt Relief Fund

Following the announcement of the lockdown, the Department of Small Business Development immediately made a debt relief fund available for small businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than R500 million has been made available through the fund, which small and medium enterprises must apply for through an online application process.

Here are the steps that need to be followed:

  1. Your business must be registered on the SMME South Africa portal. If you are not yet registered, you need to go to to register.
  2. Once your registration is complete, you can apply for the COVID-19 SMME Debt Relief Fund. You can find the application form on the Department of Small Business Development’s website.
  3. If you meet all the criteria (such as your business being tax compliant and 100 percent owned by South Africans), relief funding will be paid out to approved applicants within 12 working days.

If you own a micro-enterprise, then the Small Enterprise Development Agency is available to help you to apply to the debt relief scheme. Requests for assistance must be emailed to sends e-mail).

Solidarity Response Fund

President Cyril Ramaphosa also announced the launch of the Solidarity Response Fund, which received a R150 million kickstart from government. The fund allows organisations and individuals to donate to the nationwide effort to support small businesses and COVID-19 response efforts.

In the first two weeks of the fund, over R2 billion was donated, which will be channelled into relief efforts.

Support for spaza shops

Government has recognised the unique challenges that the pandemic poses to those working in the informal sector. In this respect, Minister for Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has also released support packages for people working in this sector.

This includes a dedicated support scheme for spaza shops.

“The spaza shop support will include dedicated networking, purchasing power and bulk purchasing through pre-selected and pre-approved wholesalers,” explains the minister.

This support will allow spaza shops to gain access to goods which they can sell. Minister Ntshavheni adds that the scheme will also provide credit to spaza shop owners, to allow them to access the money needed to buy stock.

“This will be followed by a credit facility to enable spaza shop owners to continuously buy, even after the COVID-19 outbreak is over.”

The department will also provide advice on how to successfully run their shops.

“We are also supporting them with business management support because we know that there are problems in spaza shops running their businesses to be profitable,” Ntshavheni says.

Helping informal traders

Government is also working on creating a package that will provide income relief to informal traders who have lost income due to the crisis.

Informal businesses also qualify for the SMME Debt Relief Fund but are required to register with the department in the same manner as other small businesses.

For information about financial relief for small businesses, call 0860 663 7867.



Employers are reminded that all Employer Annual Reconciliation Declarations (EMP501), Employee Tax Certificates [IRP5/IT3(a)s] and, where applicable, Tax Certificate Cancellation Declarations (EMP601) for the period 1 March 2018 to 28 February 2019 must be submitted to SARS by 31 May 2019.
It is crucial for employers to submit their annual reconciliation within the deadline and issue their employees with IRP5/IT3(a) certificates.  These are the main documents required for individual taxpayers to file their personal income tax returns during Tax Season, which commences on 1 July 2019.
There are elements on the EMP501 that must reconcile for the reconciliation submission to be successful. These are:
  • Monthly Employer Declarations (EMP201s) reflecting  monthly Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deductions, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Skills Development Levy (SDL);
  • Payments made (excluding penalty and interest payments);
  • Employee Tax Certificates [IRP5/IT3(a)s] generated; and
  • Employment Tax Incentive calculations, if applicable for the period.
By requesting a Statement of Account after a submission on eFiling, employers are able to view any outstanding debt, outstanding returns and unallocated payments.
Declarations can be submitted via @syFile™ Employer or eFiling.   Manually completed payroll tax forms are no longer accepted.  Employers are encouraged to avoid the last-minute rush and ensure time for corrections, if required.
Copies of all declarations submitted must be kept for a minimum period of five years.
Since SARS uses the information declared by employers to prepopulate personal income tax returns, employees are reminded to check the information on their IRP5/IT3(a) certificates as well as the information submitted on tax certificates from third party institutions such as medical schemes.  If information on the tax return is incorrect, the employee is required to approach their employer or third party institution to correct the information.
SARS tax education workshops on the use of e@syFile™ and employer annual reconciliation declarations are available before the deadline at various branches around the country.  The schedule is available on the SARS website at ‘Useful tools_Learn about Tax‘.
The SARS Contact Centre can be contacted on 0800 00 7277 while guidelines on how to file can be obtained from the SARS website under the section on Businesses and Employers.


National Treasury and SARS are proposing the following set of measures to help businesses focus on staying afloat and paying their employees and suppliers.

Useful links:

1. Employers:

  • An increase in the expanded employment tax incentive amount: The first set of tax measures provided for a wage subsidy of up to R500 per month for each employee that earns less than R6 500 per month. This amount will be increased to R750 per month at a total cost of around R15 billion. An increase in the proportion of tax to be deferred and in the gross income threshold for automatic tax deferrals: The first set of tax measures also allowed tax compliant businesses to defer 20 per cent of their employees’ tax liabilities over the next four months (ending 31 July 2020) and a portion of their provisional corporate income tax payments (without penalties or interest). The proportion of employees’ tax that can deferred will be increased to 35 per cent and the gross income threshold for both deferrals will be increased from R50 million to R100 million, providing total cash flow relief of around R31 billion with an expected revenue loss of R5 billion.
  • See our FAQs for Employers.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

2. VAT:

  • Fast-tracking of value-added tax (VAT) refunds: Smaller VAT vendors that are in a net refund position will be temporarily permitted to file monthly instead of once every two months, thereby unlocking the input tax refund faster and immediately helping with cash-flow. SARS is working towards having its systems in place to allow this in May 2020 for Category A vendors that would otherwise only file in June 2020.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

3. Provisional Tax:

  • See the following measures aimed in assisting small to medium sized businesses (individuals, companies, and trusts (including micro-businesses) to alleviate cash flow problems for compliant provisional taxpayers:
    • Deferral of a portion of the payment of the first and second provisional tax liability to SARS, without SARS imposing penalties and interest for the late payment of the deferred amount;
    • The first provisional tax payments due from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020 will be based on 15 percent of the estimated total tax liability, while the second provisional tax payments due from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 will be based on 65 percent of the estimated total tax liability (after deducting the 15% payment amount received from the 1st period into account);
    • Provisional taxpayers with deferred payments will be required to pay the remaining 35% tax liability when making the third provisional tax payment in order to avoid interest charges on assessment.

4. Excise:

  • A deferral for the payment of excise taxes on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products: Due to the restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, payments due in May 2020 and June 2020 will be deferred by 90 days for excise compliant businesses to more closely align tax payments through the duty-at-source system (excise duties are imposed at the point of production) with retail sales. This is expected to provide short term assistance of around R6 billion.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

5. Skills development levy:

  • Skills development levy holiday: From 1 May 2020, there will be a four-month holiday for skills development levy contributions (1 per cent of total salaries) to assist all businesses with cash flow. This provides relief of around R6 billion.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

6. Corporate Income Tax:

  • Postponing the implementation of some Budget 2020 measures: The 2020 Budget announced measures to broaden the corporate income tax base by (i) restricting net interest expense deductions to 30 per cent of earnings; and (ii) limiting the use of assessed losses carried forward to 80 per cent of taxable income. Both measures were to be effective for years of assessment commencing on or after 1 January 2021. These measures will be postponed to at least 1 January 2022.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

7. Carbon Tax:

  • Three-month deferral for filing and first payment of carbon tax liabilities: The filing requirement and the first carbon tax payment are due by 31 July 2020. To provide additional time to complete the first return, as well as cash flow relief in the short term, and to allow for the utilisation of carbon offsets as administered by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the filing and payment date will be delayed to 31 October 2020, providing cash flow relief of close to R2 billion.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

8. Penalties:

  • Case-by-case application to SARS for waiving of penalties: Larger businesses (with gross income of more than R100 million) that can show they are incapable of making payment due to the COVID-19 disaster, may apply directly to SARS to defer tax payments without incurring penalties. Similarly, businesses with gross income of less than R100 million can apply for an additional deferral of payments without incurring penalties.
  • How to apply for the waiving of penalties for tax debt:
    • Larger businesses (with gross income of more than R100 million) that are incapable of making payment due to the COVID-19 disaster, may apply to defer tax payments without incurring penalties by emailing us on
    • Similarly, businesses with gross income of less than R100 million can apply for an additional deferral of payments without incurring penalties by emailing us on
    • For more information on the requirements and documents to include in the application, see the How do I query my debt webpage.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

9.  Expanding access to Living Annuity Funds:

  • In order to assist individuals who either need cash flow immediately or who do not want to be forced to realise living annuity investments that have underperformed, Government proposes amending GN290, Government Gazette 32005 of 11 March 2009 by expanding access to living annuities for a limited period of four months, beginning 1 May 2020 and ending on 31 August 2020 as follows:
    • Allowing individuals who receive funds from a living annuity to temporarily immediately either increase (up to a maximum of 20 per cent from 17.5 per cent) or decrease (down to a minimum of 0.5 per cent from 2.5 per cent) the proportion they receive as annuity income, instead of waiting up to one year until their next contract anniversary date;
    • Allowing individuals to adjust their draw down rates at any time during this period (irrespective of whether or not the contacts¡¦ anniversary date falls within the said period);
    • Any elections made during this period will only be applicable for the above mentioned four-month period. The lapsing of this period will result in the draw down rates automatically reverting to the rates applicable before said election.

In addition, Government proposes to amend GN1164, Government Gazette 31554 of 30 October 2008 as follows:

  • The R50 000, which is the minimum value of the annuity or part of the retirement interest which an individual can withdraw in the event that there was any previous lump sum commutation in the fund and R75 000 in any other case be replaced by a single threshold of R125 000 to be applied as the de-minimis amount.
  • The proposed amendments to the de-minimis amounts to R125 000 will not be limited to the four month period and will continue to apply therafter.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

10. Increasing the deduction available for donations made to Solidarity Fund:

  • To alleviate the cashflow difficulties of employees where their employers contribute to the Solidarity Fund on their behalf, Government is proposing a special relief measure by temporarily increasing the current 5 per cent tax limit in the calculation of monthly PAYE of the employee. An additional limit of up to a maximum of 33.3 per cent for three months or 16.66% for six months, depending on an employee’s circumstances, will be available.This will ensure that the employee gets the deduction that is in excess of 5 per cent much earlier than under normal circumstances and will therefore not have to wait until final assessment to claim a potential refund, provided the donation is made to the Solidarity Fund. It is, however, important to note that a final determination must still be made upon assessment as the employee may have other income, deductions or losses that impact the final taxable income before the deduction of donations.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

11. Adjusting PAYE for donations made through the Employer to the Solidarity Fund:

  • In order to encourage South Africans to make contributions to the Solidarity Fund in line with the President’s call to action, it is proposed that the tax-deductible limit for donations, currently 10 per cent of taxable income, be increased to 20 per cent in respect of donations in cash or of property in kind donated and actually paid or transferred to the Solidarity Fund at the end of the year of assessment of the donor to the Solidarity Fund during the 2020/21 tax year. There will, thus, be a limit of 10 per cent for any qualifying donations (including donations to the Solidarity Fund in excess of its specific limit) and an additional 10 per cent for donations to the Solidarity Fund.The 20 per cent tax-deductible limit for donations will apply only to donations made during the 2020/2021 tax year. Any donations over the limit made during the 2020/2021 tax year will be carried forward and deemed to be a donation made in the succeeding year of assessment (2021/2022) and be subject to the 10 per cent limitation in that year.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.




ACCA is offering ICB registered students who have completed their ICB National Diploma Financial Accounting NQF 6 qualification the following special;

Item Standard Price Offer Price*
Initial Registration £40.00 £30.00
Subscription year 1 £112.00 £0.00
Exemption AB (F1) £80.00 £30.00
Exemption MA (F2) £80.00 £30.00
Exemption FA (F3) £80.00 £30.00
Exemption LW (F4) £106.00 £30.00
Exemption PM (F5) £106.00 £106.00
Exemption TX (F6) £106.00 £30.00
Exemption FR (F7) £106.00 £106.00
Exemption AA (F8) £106.00 £106.00
Exemption FM (F9) £106.00 £106.00

Discounts will only be applied to the exemptions the student is eligible for, following assessment by ACCA Customer Operations.
* Exemption discount is only applicable to ICB registered students.

Please make use of the following code CB8 on the application where it indicates registration code. It is imperative that the code is used to make use of the discount.

To register, please follow this link and pay the required fee online;

To familiarise yourself with ACCA, its presence, student support, fees as well as the registration process, please click here:

All queries can be directed to Linah Thaba at

+27 11 459 1904 (Direct Line)


To access the registration guide, please follow this link to the knowledge base.