Carbon tax guide launched to provide support to taxpayers

9th October 2020 BY: DONNA SLATER 

Legal, regulatory and business information and analytics provider LexisNexis Legal & Professional has published its Concise Guide to Carbon Tax guide to assist carbon taxpayers in the process of filing their submissions.

The guide has been made available as an electronic book from October 5 and will be released in print on October 14.


Although the submission of carbon tax returns and the payment of carbon tax will become a yearly event, LexisNexis notes that the 2020 filing season poses particular hurdles resulting from South African Revenue Service’s (Sars') continuing to publish guidance and support material, which are essential for a proper completion of a carbon tax return, until as recently as September 21.

The first period for filing of carbon tax returns opened on October 1 and will close on October 29.


During this limited timeframe, carbon taxpayers are required to file their initial tax returns, using the Sars eFiling digital platform, and pay carbon tax liability for operating emissions of greenhouse gases between June 1 and December 31, 2019.

By assembling and explaining the entire suite of relevant documentation, legal instruments, forms and practical processes, the guide provides a single point-of-reference for the entire carbon tax legal regime and equips taxpayers to manage their carbon tax compliance and payment obligations.

The guide is compiled by seasoned climate change, carbon market, carbon tax and tax law practitioners – climate change, carbon markets and environmental legal consultancy Climate Legal director’s Andrew Gilder and Olivia Rumble, as well as law firm ENSafrica tax executive Mansoor Parker.

Gilder states that effective and efficient responses to the new carbon tax legal regime demand “intimate knowledge” of the complex interaction of three statutes, five sets of regulations, numerous rules and myriad calculation and reporting obligations.

These factors are governed and administered according to the requirements of three different government departments, he adds. “It is understandable that carbon taxpayers are asking for assistance and the concise guide is precisely the help that taxpayers have been seeking.”


An extract from the guide’s Chapter 5 points out that the Customs and Excise Act (CEA) is the administrative lens through which the entire carbon tax legal regime is focused, and Section 54AA (provisions relating to the carbon tax) is the counterintuitively cryptic institutional crux of the suite of laws and regulations examined in Chapters 1 to 4.

Section 54AA outlines a governance framework for the carbon tax that is firmly founded in excise administration and practice.

While Chapters 1 to 4 are primarily concerned with the ambit of the Carbon Tax Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder, the Act and regulations address neither the licensing and registration of emitting facilities and carbon taxpayers nor the preparation and submission of carbon tax returns.

The deceptively limited legislative space occupied by Section 54AA deals with these issues and forms the basis for a complex and convoluted institutional and administrative design, which considerably widens the scope of the guide.

According to the guide’s authors, Section 54AA of the CEA even suggests a useful and practically oriented approach for the content and structure of this chapter.

“Instead of conducting an academic examination of that section in a way that is disassociated from its legal ramifications, Chapter 5 proceeds first by isolating the broadly separate requirements and obligations that arise from Section 54AA and, secondly, by using such requirements and obligations as the framework for a series of conceptually distinct substantive paragraphs.”