Overview of Income Tax for Individuals

People who pay income tax are generally individuals who earn an income (from a salary, commission, fees, etc.).

Corporate tax includes tax paid by companies or close corporations, as well as trusts, on their annual income.

Most of the State’s income is derived from Income Tax (personal and corporate tax), although nearly a third of total revenue from national government taxes comes from indirect taxes, primarily Value-Added Tax (VAT).

South Africa has a residence-based tax system, which means residents are, subject to certain exclusions, taxed on their worldwide income, irrespective of where their income was earned. By contrast, non-residents are taxed on their income from a South African source.

Non-residents pay tax on their income from a South African source.


There are three ways to register for tax:

New! 27 March 2020 – Auto registration for Personal Income Tax:
When you register for SARS eFiling for the first time and you do not yet have a personal income tax number, SARS will automatically register you and issue a tax reference number. Note that you must have a valid South African ID.

Easy steps:

  1. Go to www.sars.gov.za
  2. Select ‘Register Now’
  3. Follow the prompts
  4. Request a Notice of Registration – it will reflect your income tax registration number

You can also register for SARS eFiling on the SARS MobiApp and follow the same steps.

Register through your employer via SARS eFiling:

SARS eFiling offers the SARS registration function which allows employers to submit employee income tax registrations to SARS. For more info, see our Guide to Register an Employee for Income Tax via eFiling.

Register at your nearest SARS Branch: (Please note that visits to SARS branches will be limited during the lockdown period)

Visit your nearest SARS Branch to register for Personal Income Tax. Make sure you take along the necessary supporting documents.
Unsure whether you are registered or not? Ask your employer, or call our SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277 or visit your nearest SARS branch to find out.

Top Tip: SARS won’t provide your tax number to another person, unless the person is your tax practitioner or has Power of Attorney (POA) to conduct your tax affairs.