Data

In collaboration with the National Treasury (NT), the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), anonymized administrative tax data is made available for research purposes. South Africa is one of only a few countries globally to grant access to this type of data for research purposes. This is a unique opportunity as access to national administrative data for researchers, outside of senior officials, is rarely granted. The administrative data plays a central part in the SA-TIED programme and aims to feed into policy formulation. 

Accessing tax administrative data at the NT

3 work streams use these data for research, namely:

These work streams will periodically call for research proposals during the duration of the programme (2018-2021) and can be found under the Opportunities tab. Responding to these calls is the best way you can gain access to the data for research purposes.

Data description

These are micro data, which means the units of a population are individuals or businesses. Data records are linked by using the variables they have in common. Personal information is removed so individuals and firms cannot be identified.

Currently, six datasets are available for research:

  1. Company Income Tax (CIT) (2008-18)
  2. Pay-As-Your-Earn (PAYE, payroll or IRP5) (2008-2018)
  3. Value-Added Tax (VAT) (2009-2018)
  4. Customs data (2009-2018)
  5. Individual Panel (which merges IRP5 and ITR12 data) (2011-18)
  6. SARS-NT/CIT-IRP5 panel merges the CIT, IRP5, customs and VAT data (2008-18) 

Two matched panels, the Individual Panel and the SARS-NT Panel CIT-IRP5 have been developed. The Individual Panel matches payroll (IRP5) and self-assessed (ITR12) taxpayer information to create a more complete overview of formal employment in South Africa. You can find a detailed description of the Individual panel in this SA-TIED Working Paper.

The SARS-NT panel contains linked data from the CIT, VAT, Customs and IRP5 and is on the firm-level. You can find a detailed description of the SARS-NT panel in this WIDER Working Paper.

Data security

The data is anonymized to comply with global best practices on data security and can only be accessed at a secured data facility located in Pretoria, South Africa, where UNU-WIDER researchers work with NT and SARS staff to maintain the database and share knowledge and capabilities with anyone given access.

Research

If you are planning on responding to a SA-TIED call for research proposals, please check the papers at the bottom of this page for completed, current, and ongoing research to avoid the duplication of existing research.  Final papers resulting from the analysis of these data will be made available on our research page alongside all other SA-TIED final papers.   

previous research collaboration between NT and UNU-WIDER has already produced a series of studies utilizing tax administrative data.

Some independent research studies have also been undertaken by staff at the National Treasury. An overview of this research can be accessed here.

Please feel free to send an email to sa.datateam@wider.unu.edu with additional questions regarding the data.

Working paper
Danie Schutte, Pieter van der Zwan, and Caro Janse van Rensburg
This paper analyses the permanent and temporary differences of South African firms for the period covered in the SARS-NT panel. The analysis provides valuable information about the differences between accounting profits and the taxable income...
September 2021
Public revenue
Working paper
Wynnona Steyn, Alexius Sithole, Winile Ngobeni, Eva Muwanga-Zake, Helen Barnes, Michael Noble, David McLennan,Gemma Wright, and Katrin Gasior
In this paper we explore South Africa’s personal income tax system using two microsimulation models. The first, SAMOD, simulates personal income tax and social benefits using a dataset derived from the nationally representative National Income...
July 2021
Public revenue
Working paper
Brandon Joel Tan
There is a large literature on the minimum wage focused on directly exposed firms and geographies. This paper provides new evidence that the minimum wage has significant spillover effects on firms exposed to the minimum...
June 2021
Enterprise development
Working paper
Isaac Marcelin, Daniel Brink, and Wei Sun
We study the role of trade credit in enhancing the resilience of financially constrained firms from 2010 to 2017. Implicit borrowing in trade finance allows financially constrained firms to bridge the financing gap, expand employment...
May 2021
Enterprise development