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  • Many measures are available to help South African businesses – and individuals – get through a crippling coronavirus-induced economic crisis.
  • Government has introduced a range of tax breaks for companies.
  • UIF claims, repayment holidays, and credit insurance are some of the options open to individuals.
  • Here is all the financial help on offer, and where to find it.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.

A long list of interventions have now been introduced to help South African businesses and individuals through a crippling coronavirus-induced economic crisis.

Here’s what is currently available, and where you can find help. 

All businesses

Tax break per employee:

Companies can now claim back up to R1,500 a month per employee who earns less than R6,500 (for those younger than 30), and R750 for those 30 and older. These amounts will be paid back every month by the SA Revenue Service (Sars) as part of the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) programme. Read more.

UIF payouts:

As part of the special Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS), administered by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), companies can apply for money to help pay their workers. The payment will be a percentage of an employee’s salary, according to a legislated sliding scale from 38% (for the highest earners) to 60% (for the lowest earners). The maximum benefit is R6,730 a month. Companies struggling to pay salaries due to the Covid-19 crisis need to apply on https://uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19/.

READ | Claiming money from the UIF: Everything you need to know

State-backed loans from banks

Businesses with an annual turnover of up to R300 million will soon be able to start applying for special government-backed Covid-19 loans from South Africa's commercial banks. The interest rate will be linked to the repo rate. The big benefit to borrowers is in the timelines for repayment: no money has to be repaid for six months from the first draw-down. After that repayment can be stretched out for up to five years, making for five-and-a-half years in total to repay.

READ | 5.5 years to pay and banks risk only 6%: How SA’s R200bn Covid-19 loan scheme will work

Delay in payment of provisional tax:

Instead of paying 50% of their expected tax bill six months into the tax year (and then settling the full amount at the end of the tax year) companies are now allowed to pay only 15% after six months, and another 50% by the end of the tax year. Then, by 30 September 2021 (or six months after the end of its financial year), the company needs to pay the outstanding balance. This option is only for companies with an annual turnover of less than R100 million. Read more.

Delayed employee tax payments:

Businesses with an annual turnover of less that R100 million (up from R50 million previously) can also keep back 35% (up from 20% before) of the pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) payments they were supposed to hand over to the SA Revenue Service (SARS) for the next four months. But they will have to pay back this amount in equal instalments, with the first payment expected on 7 September 2020. Read more.

No tax penalties for some companies:

Companies that can show they are incapable of making payment due to the crisis, can apply to Sars to defer tax payments without incurring penalties.

Skills development levy holiday:

From 1 May 2020, there will be a four-month holiday for skills development levy contributions (1% of total salaries).

Carbon tax liabilities:

South Africa's the first carbon tax payments were due by 31 July 2020 - this has now been delayed to 31 October 2020.

For small and medium-sized businesses

Government funding:

There are two main government schemes aimed at small businesses. The Debt Relief Finance Scheme will assist distressed small companies with funding. Then there is the Business Growth/Resilience Facility aimed at small companies which can take advantage of supply opportunities resulting from the coronavirus pandemic or a shortage of goods in the local market. For both of these, companies first need to register at https://smmesa.gov.za/. Further details to apply for both schemes are due soon. (Money will be paid out within seven business days after an application has been approved, the department of small business development promised.)

Fast-tracking of VAT refunds:

Smaller VAT vendors can claim VAT monthly instead of once every two months.

Help for different sectors:

Tax holiday for booze and cigarette companies

Alcohol and cigarette companies received 90 days extra to pay excise duties that were due in May and June.

Small farmers:

Financially distressed small-scale farmers who have an annual turnover of between R20,000 and R1 million can apply for help from a fund totalling R1.2 billion in government funding.

Tourism companies

The Department of Tourism will pay once-off grants of R50,000 to approved small and medium enterprises. Applications will be evaluated by a panel of experts – and black empowered companies will get preference.

IDC funding:

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has allocated billions in emergency funding to help manufacturers with working capital, as well as for companies in agriculture, tourism, energy, and vehicle components manufacturing.

Film industry:

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) has invited the industry to submit funding applications for script development, animation, and post-production projects. The call for these applications was supposed to have opened in August, but this has been hastened “to keep the industry busy during this downtime”. The NFVF will also provide a once-off cash injection of R500,000 to the ten companies currently commissioned by the organisation.

Musicians:

The South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA) has brought forward the distribution of royalties scheduled for August 2020 to April 2020.

Minibus taxi owners:

SA Taxi, which finances more than 32,000 minibus taxis, has announced a repayment holiday of a month (from April 1) for its clients.

Insurer suppliers - including plumbers and panel-beaters

Some of the large insurers have allocated money to assist their suppliers. OUTsurance, for example, will assist some of its service providers - which have a turnover of less than R50 million per year, and and saw the value of work allocated by OUTsurance drop by more than 50% during the period April to June 2020 - with financial support. Other requirements also apply. 

Spaza shops:

Government's new support scheme for spaza shops will give them funding to buy stock and assure bulk-buying discounts at approved wholesalers. But the spaza shops need to be registered with the SARS, the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). Read more.

For the self-employed

Delay in payment of provisional tax:

Instead of paying 50% of their expected tax bill six months into the tax year (and settling the full amount at the end of the tax year) provisional taxpayers only have to pay 15% after six months, and another 50% by the end of the tax year. Then, by 30 September 2021, they need to pay the balance. While it hasn’t finalised which individuals would be eligible, Treasury says that it will probably be those who have a turnover of less than R5 million and don’t earn more than 10% of their turnover from interest, dividends, foreign dividends, rentals from letting fixed property and pay received from an employer.

For individuals

UIF unemployment claims:

If you lost your job during the crisis, you should be able to claim from the UIF

Credit insurance:

You may have insurance on your home loan, credit card, or short-term loan that could cover your repayments if you lost your income during the coronavirus crisis – without even knowing about it.

Credit insurance would traditionally pay your outstanding debts if you die or are permanently disabled. But in 2017, new legislation was adopted in South Africa which means that credit insurance must also cover your repayments – for up to 12 months – if you are unemployed or unable to earn an income, and not necessarily due to illness.

You can take out credit insurance on most debt products including card accounts, home loans, your overdraft, and vehicle finance. But it is not always mandatory, so you need to check whether you have credit insurance in place.

READ | What you need to know about credit insurance – which may repay your loans during this crisis

Help from banks:

South Africa's big banks have also announced individual measures to assist clients, with some offering three-month payment holidays on home loans, vehicle finance, personal loans, and credit cards. 

READ | All the help South African banks are offering consumers due to Covid-19

Help from insurers:

The insurers each offer different relief options - from Santam's refund of 20% of premiums in April, to OUTsurance's 15% cut in premiums in May. Find out more

Retirees:

Government is allowing those who draw money from living annuity funds as income to immediately increase the amount they withdraw to a maximum of 20% per year (from 17.5%). They are also allowed to only with withdraw a minimum of 0.5% - from 2.5% in the past. "This will assist individuals who either need cash flow immediately or who do not want to be forced to sell after their investments have underperformed," Treasury said in a document.

This article is updated with new information as received. Applications for the Oppenheimer South African Future Trust (SAFT) and Johann Rupert's Sukuma Relief Programme have both closed. 

(Compiled by Helena Wasserman.)

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