The South African Revenue Service (Sars) on Monday said nearly half of companies in the country had no taxable income in 2017 while a quarter recorded a taxable loss.
Sars said its latest data highlighted the impact of weak economic growth.
The country’s growth has been forecast at 0.5% this year, which is a significant drop in what was previously predicted.
Sars said based on its 2017 data, 48.3% of companies had taxable income equal to zero and 27.4% reported an assessed loss. On the other hand, 24.3% had a positive taxable income.
Companies had up to 12 months from the end of their financial cycles to submit tax returns.
Sars said the decline could be largely be attributed to sluggish economic growth, structural challenges in some sectors of the economy, low confidence levels, and political uncertainty.
The tax collector said companies submitting returns fell to 36.9% – or just over two million for the 2018/19 fiscal year – partly due to many being considered “inactive or dormant”.
About 63% – or 572,000 companies – expected to submit returns complied.