South Africans can now build their money through Tax-Free Investments (TFIs) without having to worry about taxes cutting into their profits. TFIs, which were first introduced as a means of encouraging household savings, provide a variety of investment possibilities, each with certain advantages and things to keep in mind. We’ll go into the specifics of TFIs in South Africa in this guide, covering their definition, operation, and associated restrictions in addition to highlighting some of the greatest tax-free investment opportunities.

Overview of Tax-Free Investments

Launched on March 1st, 2015, Tax-Free Investments in South Africa was primarily designed to encourage people to save. Investors can profit from these investments without having to pay income taxes, dividend taxes, or capital gains taxes.

How TFIs Work

Different financial institutions, including registered collective scheme managers, licensed banks, long-term insurance, and some governmental organizations, can offer TFIs. There are lifetime and annual contribution caps for investors. The annual limitations began at R30,000 in 2016 and grew gradually over time to R36,000 in 2021. The annual limit is forfeited and cannot be carried over to succeeding years in any amount.

Illustration of Limits

Let’s take the example of a contributor who made R27,000 in the 2020 tax year. The R6,000 that they didn’t use up in the previous year cannot be carried over because they didn’t meet the R33,000 annual cap. Penalties apply if the annual limit is exceeded, though. Should the individual invest R40,000 during the 2021 tax year, they will be subject to a 40% penalty on any amount above the R36,000 cap. Apart from the annual caps, each individual has a lifetime cap of R500,000. This implies that a person is no longer able to make additional investments in TFIs after their cumulative contributions surpass R500,000.


Investment Returns and Contributions

Interest and income from investments are not regarded as contributions and have no bearing on the annual or lifetime restrictions. Nevertheless, these returns are considered as new contributions and have an impact on the restrictions if they are taken out and reinvested.

Investments That Qualify

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which are categorized as collective investment schemes, fixed deposits, unit trusts, endowment policies, linked investment products, and other investment vehicles are all included in TFIs. For these investments to be eligible for tax-free status, they must be made by approved service providers.

Limited to the Lifetime limit of R500,000

Year of Assessment Invested
2016 R30,000
2017 R30,000
2018 R33,000
2019 R33,000
2020 R33,000
2021 R36,000
2022 R36,000
2023 R36,000
2024 R36,000
2025 R36,000
2026 R36,000
2027 R36,000
2028 R36,000
2029 R36,000
2030 R20,000*
Total R500,000

The Best Tax-Free Investment Options

Let’s now examine some of the top tax-free investment choices that South Africa has to offer:

1. Fixed deposits

One safe and reliable approach to generate tax-free returns is through fixed deposits. A lump sum deposit is made by investors with a bank or other financial institution for a specific amount of time, usually many months or years. Because fixed deposits don’t require taxes on interest, they are a popular choice for conservative investors looking for steady returns. Investors can select the fixed deposit option that best fits their investment horizon and financial objectives because they are frequently offered with a range of interest rates and maturities.

2. Unit Trusts

Unit trusts, which are another name for collective investment plans, combine the money of investors to buy a variety of assets including bonds, stocks, and real estate. Depending on their level of risk tolerance and investment goals, investors have access to a large selection of unit trust funds. Unit trusts provide investors with access to professional investment management and tax-free returns because they are overseen by qualified fund managers. Unit trusts help investors spread their risk throughout a variety of asset classes and industries by offering benefits related to diversification.

3. Endowment Policies

Long-term insurers provide some endowment policies that are eligible as tax-free investments. Endowment policies allow policyholders to accumulate money over time while taking advantage of tax advantages by combining investing components with insurance coverage. These policies often offer tax-free growth on the investment component of the insurance together with fixed or flexible premium payment options. Investors can customize their endowment policy’s coverage and investment approach to match their risk tolerance and financial objectives.

4. Linked Investment Products

Known by another name, linked investment services provider (LISP) accounts, linked investment products give investors access to a variety of investment opportunities via a single platform. Investors can create a diverse portfolio that suits their needs by selecting from a range of underlying investments, such as individual shares, ETFs, and unit trusts. Investment returns can rise tax-free and with flexibility when using linked investment products. These products frequently include extra features like regular investment plans and automatic rebalancing, which make it easier for investors to manage their investments and meet their financial objectives.

5. Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

ETFs are investment funds traded on stock exchanges, representing a basket of assets such as stocks, bonds, or commodities. ETFs offer investors diversification, liquidity, and low costs compared to traditional mutual funds. In South Africa, certain ETFs classified as collective investment schemes qualify as tax-free investments, allowing investors to benefit from tax-free growth on their investment returns. ETFs provide investors with exposure to a wide range of asset classes and sectors, helping them build a well-diversified portfolio with ease. These funds are traded on stock exchanges, providing investors with flexibility and liquidity to buy and sell shares as needed.

What should you do Next?

Once you’ve made the decision to investigate tax-free investments (TFIs) in South Africa, you must act appropriately to fully capitalize on this possibility. What you should do next is as follows:

1. Seek Guidance from a Service Provider

Contacting a licensed service provider that offers tax-free investing choices is the first step. Banks, long-term insurers, registered collective plan managers, and other designated institutions are some examples of these providers. They can help you navigate the world of TFIs and choose the best investment products depending on your risk tolerance and financial objectives because they have the knowledge and resources to do so.

2. Understand Reporting Requirements

In order to enable tax-free investments and guarantee reporting conformity, service providers are essential. Service providers are required to disclose specific data to the South African Revenue Service (SARS) twice a year on behalf of investors. This data consists of:

  • Total Contributions per Tax Year: This refers to the investor’s total contributions made to tax-free investment accounts within a given tax year.
  • Total Amounts Withdrawn per Tax Year: It describes the entire amount that an investor withdraws from tax-free investment accounts in a given tax year.
  • Total Amounts Transferred per Tax Year: This covers the entire amount of money moved during a specific tax year between tax-free investment accounts.
  • Total Returns on Investment: This covers the entire amount of money moved during a specific tax year between tax-free investment accounts.

3. Receipt of IT3(s) Tax-Free Investment Certificate

Every year, service providers furnish investors with an IT3(s) Tax-Free Investment certificate as part of their reporting requirements. An overview of the investor’s tax-free investment activities and returns for the tax year is given in this certificate. For taxpayers filing their annual tax returns with SARS, it is a necessary document.

4. Stay Informed and Engage Proactively

It is essential to be up to current on market trends, investment possibilities, and regulatory revisions in order to make the best judgments and optimize the tax benefits associated with investments. Reviewing your investment portfolio on a regular basis and speaking with financial consultants can help you identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to your strategy.

5. Leverage Tax-Free Benefits Wisely

Investing in tax-free bonds sensibly can have a big impact on wealth growth and tax savings. Through prudent utilization of these advantages and intelligent investment planning, you can establish a strong financial base and strive towards accomplishing your long-range financial objectives.


For South Africans, tax-free investments offer a great way to increase their savings and take advantage of tax breaks. Individuals can profit from a variety of investment alternatives, such as fixed deposits, unit trusts, endowment policies, linked investment products, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), tax-free when they invest in TFIs. When choosing the best tax-free investment options for your financial needs, it’s critical to take your investing goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon into account. TFIs have the potential to be extremely important in attaining long-term financial security and wealth accumulation with careful preparation and wise investment choices. A financial advisor should be consulted by investors in order to evaluate their unique situation and choose the best tax-free investment plan.