The National Treasury (NT) and the Revenue Service in South Africa (SARS) are making high-level administrative tax data available for research purposes. The use of these data for research and policy formulation is a central part of the SA-TIED programme. South Africa is one of only five countries globally to grant access to this type of data for research purposes.
The collaboration between the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), NT, and SARS on the creation of South
Africa’s administrative tax database has yielded a globally unique opportunity because access to national administrative data for researchers, outside of senior officials, is rarely granted.
The possibility for anyone interested to make a research proposal to gain access to these data is a very advanced and transparent approach to managing a national revenue service’s administrative data.
Such an approach reveals the ongoing commitment of SA-TIED programme partners to the shared principle that good policy requires good research and good research requires good data.
Accessing SARS administrative data at the NT
Each of the SA-TIED work streams using these data will periodically call for research proposals during the duration of the programme (2018-2020). Answering one of these calls is the best way you can gain access to, training with, and use of the data for research purposes.
Please check our Opportunities page for research calls.
The work streams using these data for research are:
- The Enterprise Development for Job Creation and Growth work stream
- Public Revenue Mobilization for Inclusive Development work stream
- Turning the Tide on Inequality work stream
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.
Six datasets are available to researchers:
- SARS-NT/CIT-IRP5 panel (2008-16)
- Individual Panel (IRP5 and ITR12) (2011-18)
- Company Income Tax (CIT) (2008-16)
- Value-Added Tax (VAT) (2009-2017)
- Customs data (2009-2017)
- Pay-As-Your-Earn (PAYE, payroll or IRP5) (2008-2018)
To ease the work of researchers, two matched panels, the SARS-NT Panel and the Individual Panel have been developed.
The SARS-NT panel is a matched employer-employee panel containing linked data from the CIT, VAT, Customs and IRP5. You can find a detailed description of the SARS-NT panel in this WIDER Working Paper.
The Individual Panel matches payroll (IRP5) and self-assessed (ITR12) tax payer 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 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 three UNU-WIDER researchers work with NT and SARS staff to maintain the database and share knowledge and capabilities with anyone given access.