You are Here > Home > My Retirement > What is the tax benefit of an RA?

What is the tax benefit of an RA?

Jan 21, 2021

What is the tax benefit of an RA?A reader asked: “I am 38 years old and I am not happy with the returns on my Retirement Annuity (RA). I am considering scaling down my monthly contributions and rather investing the money offshore myself through a stockbroker. What are the tax differences once I reach retirement? Would I pay more tax drawing down from a living annuity or would I pay more tax with a share account that I draw down to cover living expenses?”

It is important to understand why the returns on your retirement annuity have been so poor. It may be that the investment house has done poorly relative to other providers and you could improve the performance by switching to another investment house.

The main tax benefit of an RA is the upfront tax deduction. If you invested your tax rebate into your RA you would significantly boost your retirement fund. You pay less tax now and it grows tax free, but once you reach retirement you will have to buy an annuity and you will pay tax on the income you draw from the living annuity.

On the offshore share portfolio, you will not get the initial tax deduction on your income. You will also pay dividend tax on those offshore shares, even if you are re-investing the dividends. That means you will have to pay that tax each year from your local income.

When you come to withdraw funds from the share portfolio to cover living expenses, you would pay capital gains tax.

Make use of your tax-free allowance

The one way to reduce these taxes is to invest the first R3 000 a month into a tax-free investment account (TFI). You would have to invest in a rand-based fund (or funds), although you can choose an exchange-traded fund that tracks an offshore index or fund.

Retirement annuities, like all retirement funds, have significant estate-planning benefits. They do not form part of your estate so are exempt from executor fees. For example, if your share portfolio were worth R3 million, your estate would pay R120 000 in executor fees on the portfolio alone.

An RA is not added to your estate in terms of calculating estate duty. It does not use up your R3.5 million abatement from estate duty. Capital gains tax on death does not apply either.

Retirement funds are taxed on death, but the tax falls under the retirement tax tables, where the first R500 000 is tax free and then a sliding scale is applied.

Also keep in mind that estate planning for offshore investments can get complicated as probate and even death taxes could apply in the jurisdiction where the investment is held, and you would need to have a will in that jurisdiction.

This article first appeared in City Press.


  1. My husband lost his Mom and he stands to inherit about One Million rand from his Mom’s investments with Sanlam. They (3 brothers) were told by the broker that they will be taxed plus/ minus 25% if they withdraw the funds.
    Their Dad invested the money when he retired, never used it. His Mom re-invested it and drew a monthly stipend. The kids now want to take the money and use it to settle debt etc, but now this scare of paying tax? Is that correct? Seems punitive almost

    • Sounds like it is in a living annuity structure. If so, that is taxed according to a retirement tax table – there is a tax-free portion and then a sliding scale based on the amount withdrawn. Another option is to withdraw the maximum income of 17% per annum – but that would be added to the heirs taxable income.

  2. My husband is a Pastor. He invest in SA Retail Bonds for his retirement. Does this benefit him in terms of tax?or it has to be RA?

    • There is no tax benefit to an SA Retail Bond. It earns interest and tax is paid on any interest earned above R23 800 a year – if he is younger than 65. After 65 he can earn R34 500 interest a year before paying tax.

  3. I need help with settlement amount of The bond not coming down

    • Check the rand value of the interest you are paying each month – is that decreasing?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

Previous Articles

You don’t need a lot of money to start investing

Many people feel they need to have a lot of money in order to start investing. In fact, the opposite is true. Investing small amounts every month actually provides the best risk-return scenario when it comes to longer-term investing. Investing via a monthly debit...

Retirement planning is not a once-off event

Jaco Prinsloo, Wealth Manager at PPS Wealth Advisory, has some sensible advice around retirement planning. As a wealth manager, I have observed that there are two typical clients. Some dread retirement, while others look forward to it. Those who dread it are the ones...

Make the right choices from the start

The great thing about getting your first paycheque is that you have the opportunity to do the right things before the bad habits kick in. The day that first paycheque hits your bank account you feel like you have finally arrived. But how you manage that money will...

Listen: How to decide on the right retirement village

We all go through the aging process, and one of the big decisions we have to make ‒ for ourselves or for our parents ‒ is whether (and when!) to downsize and move into a retirement village. This is not an easy decision and can be further complicated by the different...

The effects of delaying your retirement

What if you could change your retirement by working just one more year? André Wentzel, Head Client Solutions Savings at Sanlam, explains how delaying your retirement by one, three or five years could fundamentally change your savings and enable a better quality of...

Treasury says “no” to pension loan proposal

National Treasury has made it clear that it does not support any calls to allow members to borrow money from their pension funds. This was in response to a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Pension Funds Act. This Bill was put forward by DA MP Dr Dion George as a...

Four signs that could predict a market crash

Pieter Hundersmarck, fund manager at Flagship Asset Management, wants us to learn from history when it comes to the factors that could trigger a market crash. While the future is unlikely to be an exact repeat of the past, history is full of valuable lessons. These...

Removing the rand from the offshore investment equation

Kyle Wales, fund manager at Flagship Asset Management, says that we should consider offshore investment for the right reasons, not simply because we fear rand weakness. Many investors base their decisions to invest offshore purely on their subjective assessment of the...

Habits that set successful investors apart

When investing, sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing. Having the ability to block out the noise, and look through the cycle, are some of the cornerstones to investment success over the long term. Nomi Bodlani, head of strategic markets at Allan Gray,...

Listen: Why institutions are taking bitcoin seriously

If you want to understand bitcoin, blockchain and the related crypto-asset world, listen as Chris Becker, blockchain technologies specialist at Investec Private Bank, unpacks the world of blockchain technologies and explains why we are just at the start of a...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This