Taxation of Foreign Sportspersons in South Africa

The 91st edition of the Comrades Marathon will take place on 29 May 2016 when hundreds of foreign athletes from 70 countries around the world will gather in Pietermaritzburg for the 89km run to Durban. Many of the professional foreign athletes will receive income from South African promoters, clubs and sponsors.

Graeme Palmer
Graeme Palmer

Sections 47A to 47K of the Income Tax Act, 1962 provides for the taxation of foreign sportspersons such as the professional athletes who compete in the Comrades. These provisions impose a tax on amounts received by or accrued to foreign sportspersons in respect of sports events held in South Africa.

The tax imposed on the sportsperson is a final tax and is levied at a rate of 15% on all amounts received by or accrued him or her for participating in the sports event. The tax must be paid by the foreign sportsperson within 30 days after the receipt or accrual of the amount for the performance. Payment must be accompanied by a return (NR01) that is prescribed by the Commissioner.

While the liability for the tax is placed on the foreign sportsperson, it is the South African resident making payment to the sportsperson who must withhold from that payment the amount of tax for which the foreign person is liable. If a South African resident fails to withhold the tax, that resident may become personally liable to pay it over to the Commissioner. Liability of the foreign sportsperson is discharged when the tax is withheld by the resident or recovered from the resident who failed to withhold the tax.

If any amount deducted or withheld by a resident is denominated in foreign currency, the amount must be translated into South African Rands at the spot rate on the date on which that amount was so deducted or withheld.

Any South African resident who is primarily responsible for founding, organising or facilitating a sports event in South Africa where there will be foreign persons competing for reward, must notify the Commissioner within 14 days after agreeing to do so. The Commissioner may ask for additional information on the event  which must then be provided to him.

South African event organisers and sponsors of foreign sportspersons are not the only persons who must be aware of these tax provisions as they also apply to foreign entertainers performing in South Africa.

This article has been written by Graeme Palmer, a Director in the Commercial Department of Garlicke & Bousfield Inc

For more information contact  Lizette Martins (Contact details below)

NOTE: This information should not be regarded as legal advice and is merely provided for information purposes on various aspects of tax law.

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