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
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
Working paper
Caio Torres Mazzi, Gideon Ndubuisi, and Elvis Avenyo
Using the South African Revenue Service and National Treasury firm-level panel data for 2009–17, this paper investigates how global value chain-related trade affects the export performance of manufacturing firms in South Africa. In particular, the...
November 2020
Enterprise development
Working paper
Joshua Budlender and Amina Ebrahim
This paper documents the industry classification variables in the anonymized tax microdata available for research at the National Treasury Secure Data Facility in Pretoria. It discusses how the variables in the data are related to...
August 2020
Enterprise development
Working paper
Caro Janse Van Rensburg, Carli Bezuidenhout, Marianne Matthee, and Victor Stolzenburg
Inequality has been rising in most countries for several decades, with negative consequences for social cohesion and economic growth. Substantial gender wage gaps contribute significantly to overall wage inequality. We look at an often-overlooked driver...
August 2020
Inequality
Working paper
Aalia Cassim
Attempts to regulate the temporary employment sector have had mixed results internationally. In South Africa, temporary employment was regulated in 2015 through amendments to the Labour Relations Act. This paper uses administrative data to examine...
June 2020
Enterprise development
Working paper
Andrew Kerr
The IRP5 and IT3(a) tax data from the South African Revenue Service have been made available to researchers through a joint project between the South African Revenue Service, the National Treasury, and UNU-WIDER. In this...
May 2020
Inequality
Working paper
Mustapha Douch
The principal contribution of this paper is to investigate the relationship between policy uncertainty, caused by recent developments in international markets, and firms’ trade margins for the largest economy in Africa: South Africa. In particular...
May 2020
Regional growth