VAT calculator (South Africa)

LAST UPDATE: September 25th, 2020

VAT Calculator (Add Sales Tax)

Reverse VAT Calculator (Subtract Sales Tax)

Definition – What is VAT?

The VAT, or Value-Added Tax, is a value-added tax on purchases.

As a value-added tax, only the final consumer pays the VAT – purchases by business at other stages of production do not pay VAT (they are charged VAT, however, those charges act as a credit against the VAT they charge).


South Africa’s current VAT rate is 15%.

Historic rate changes have been: 1991 (introduction of VAT) – 10%. Increase in 1993 to 14%, increase in 2018 to 15%.

If a price does not mention VAT, then the price is considered to include VAT.

What goods and services are not charged VAT?

The South African Treasury Department keeps a record of goods and services not charged VAT (power point slide).

Popular (but not all) categories are:

  • 19 basic food items
  • Financial Services
  • Residential rental accommodation
  • Public and rail transport
  • Precious Metals
  • Exports
  • International Transport Services (such as an airline ticket from Johannesburg to Nairobi)

Formula – How to calculate VAT

VAT is calculated by multiplying the VAT rate (15% in South Africa) by the total pre-tax cost. The cost of VAT is then added to the purchase.

Example: R75 of goods x 15% VAT = R11.25 VAT

R75 of goods + R11.25 VAT = R86.25 total

Formula – How to calculate reverse VAT

To find the VAT from a total, divide the total amount by the VAT rate divided by 100 and plus 1.

Example: R70 total (with VAT) at 15% VAT rate

(15% / 100) + 1 = 0.15 + 1 = 1.15

R70 / 1.15 = R60.87 cost before VAT

VAT refunds (tourism & business)

South Africa will refund VAT on tourist purchases. For details see the South African Revenue Service page on VAT refunds for tourists and foreign enterprises.

Businesses are eligible to reclaim their costs that include VAT. For more information and how to register see the SARS page on VAT.

Sources and more resources