Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014-Budget: Tax relief once again an illusion

As Solidarity warned last week, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s announcement of tax relief was once again misleading. Gordhan’s announcement of personal income tax relief amounting to R9,25 billion in his budget speech once again did not constitute real relief. As the case was last year, taxpayers will have to cede a larger portion of their income to income tax this year.

Piet le Roux, senior economics researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute, said that any taxpayer receiving a salary increase in 2014 in accordance with CPI inflation, will actually have to forfeit a larger portion of his taxable income to personal income tax than in the 2013/2014 tax year. Only taxpayers receiving an increase of less than 5,4% this year - therefore, those becoming poorer in real terms – will cede a smaller part of their taxable income to personal income tax. For the 2014/15 tax year, the tax threshold and all income tax brackets have been increased by approximately 5,4%. This is significantly lower than the Reserve Bank’s expected increase in the consumer price index of 6,3% for 2014. These adjustments will in fact result in a heavier tax burden, not tax relief.

Le Roux said the following example is an illustration of how the tax relief announced this year is illusory. According to Gordhan, the ‘tax relief’ he has announced would especially benefit those receiving an income of less than R250 000 per year. ‘During the 2013/14 tax year, someone who earned a taxable income of R250 000 a year, would have ceded almost R38 800 or 15,5% of his income to personal income tax. If his income remains constant from the 2013/14 tax year to the current tax year, he would pay around R37 600 or 15% of his taxable income in personal income tax in the 2014/15 tax year. It is this decline that is called ‘tax relief’. This implies, however, that the taxpayer’s income does not even keep pace with CPI inflation. In other words, to receive the benefit of the tax relief he would have to become poorer. If his taxable income only just keeps pace with CPI inflation, increasing by 6,3% to R265 750, he would pay around R41 500 – or 15,6% – of his taxable income for personal income tax in 2014/15. This is more than the 15,5% he had paid in 2013/14 – his tax burden has, therefore, become heavier and has not been alleviated.

VIA Piet le Roux Senior economics researcher: SRI Cell: 082 556 3405

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

How to book a (great value) shoot with Nick van der Leek Photography...


Clients include Mercedes Benz, SKA, Free State Provincial Government, Harmony Gold Mines, The Blue Train, Fynbos Ridge, Gondwana Collection etc.

Individuals photographed include Morgan Freeman, Herman Zapp (and family), Miss World 2009 (and runners up), Gavin Hood, Olympic triathlete Kate Roberts, Liezel van der Westhuizen etc.

I also do product, event photography and photojournalism for a wide spectrum of magazines including GQ, YOU, Country Life, Sawubona, Fitness, Finweek, Mercedes Benz Truck, Leisure Wheels etc.

Shoots have led to models hooking up with agencies, and in one case my photos led to a small role in an international movie.

Shoots are typically 2 hours plus, outdoors, and utilise not one but several scenic backgrounds.  A shoot is useful for those who want to maintain a professional, high quality presence online, including in social media.

After The Rain [PHOTOGRAPHY]


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

DA media briefing on AGANG flip flop [VIDEO]



The real reason for the split between the DA and Agang came from a misunderstanding (and a naive mistake for a politician) in that Ramphele confused an analysis made by the Citizen Online for the press statement they had previously agreed upon. In other words the Citizen Online rewrote the press statement in their own words and Ramphele misunderstood this as the original statement.  She then thought Zille had tricked her, behind her back, and then made some rash comments on her Facebook page and also on her party website.  Zille rightly says these sorts of behaviours are evidence of a candidate who obviously is not fit to stand for president, perhaps not emotionally resilient enough, and better to find this out earlier than later.

Even so:

 Zille: It doesn't help to have tiny, shattered, splinter parties all over the place. 

Zille: People asked me from boardrooms to shacks: 'Why don't you and Ramphele join.' We were answering that call.

Zille: We can't do a single thing without hundreds of thousands of people introducing the race narrative one way or another.

Zille: I would have liked to avoid this, but if you don't take risks, you won't win. If we didn't take risks we'd still be a 1.7% party.

Helen Zille is South Africa's last best hope. We're very fortunate to have her, a lovely and important leader for SA. I don't understand the DA cynics and haters. I know there are white South Africans that say the DA are corrupt. The only thing I get from Zille is genuine sincerity. She's a polar opposite to Zuma - educated, principled, intelligent, warm, involved, visionary, generous and kind. She talks sense and speaks articulately, and she speaks for all South Africans. 

 I think she is absolutely right that South Africa has 5 or 6 years before it becomes a hopelessly failed state. Each year the Zuma clique absorbs more and more independent structures - the police, NPA etc etc. If they aren't stopped soon, the whole country will be so sown up it will become what we've all feared for so long - another Zimbabwe. Right now we're heading that way. The creep has become a crawl and now we are starting to slide towards national failure. 

 The only way to stop the ANC and this slide into corruption (which benefits a few greedy elites) is to vote for the most powerful opposition. Whatever your politics, I think you can't argue with the fact that the DA is honest and wherever they lead they do deliver. 

 On the upside this 'embarrassment' with Agang has provided the DA with awesome publicity - just watch the entirety of this news conference FYI - ahead of the elections. For me the key weakness is the DA aren't in the headlines enough. They deserve to be. I think Zille emerges from this looking like a good, strong, prudent leader that stands for the interests of a better South Africa for all.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Attention Editors: Please select the appropriate article for your publication from this menu.

Editors can email the writer and commission a story, on spec, at no obligation.  You only pay if it meets your standards.  Email Nickvanderleek@gmail.com if you are interested.\

Travel:

Playing Cowboy in the Moonlight - horseriding with a difference (under the full moon in Big Sky Country).
Cowboy Kleinhans, from the farm Cyferbank, will make dreams come true for any city slicker. Twice a day Cowboy undertakes trail rides and accompanies the riders on well behaved and well trained horses through wildlife camps as well as cattle ranches on adjacent farms.
http://www.goldeneagletrailrides.co.za/

Includes photos.
Story highlight: seeing a meteor break up and crackle on the way back.

Mule Trekking Fish River Canyon (via Gondwana Collections' 3 day/4 night Fish Eagle Trail)
One of my all time top 5 best hiking experiences - and these include Kili, the Otter Trail, Bukhansan (South Korea) and Mount Aux Sources.

Includes photos.


Story highlights: the world's most scenic shower (with a view on the precipice of the canyon), and the most comforting soundtrack after a hard days hiking, the loud PFFFFRRRR of the mules every few minutes.

http://www.gondwana-collection.com/home/tours/canyonmuletrekking/

8000km in a 4x2

A cautionary tale on how to travel (and how not to travel) in a normal non-4x4 through Namibia.
Includes excellent photos.
Story highlight: fuel light coming on and then beeping (usually an indication that there is only 1km of fuel left in the tank) with 20km to go to henties Bay.  Turns out there was dust in the fuel line...


Update on the Zapps

Herman Zapp and his family are travelling the world in an 85 year old car.  Right now they're somewhere in Zimbabwe.

Would you like to know their latest travails?  I am in regular touch with them so if you would like a dose of REAL travel inspiration, just say the word.
Some recent photos courtesy Herman Zapp:

 Company News

BZM's Bielie Engelbrecht buys 40 Mercedes Benz trucks
More info here:http://www.bzm.co.za/homepage.html
Includes photos and an interview with the CEO of BZM

Guy Stuff

The Jerk of Wall Street - an analysis of the real Jordan Belfort.

More here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordan_Belfort


Personal takeout: since reading this book I have fairly effortlessly lost 5kg.  One of the toughest habits to change I think is eating, and this book deals effectively with understanding how the cues, routines and rewards involved in that can be - not changed - but altered.  For effective results.

Review of book: The Power of Habit (a book Wired magazine describes as 'Absolutely Fascinating')
“If Duhigg is right about the nature of habits, which I think he is, then trying to get rid of these bad habits won’t work. Instead, what is needed is to teach the managers to identify the cues that lead to these bad habits and rewards, and then learn alternative routines that lead to similar rewards, i.e. business and personal success.”Forbes
More info here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/081298160X

Review of American Sniper.

This is one of the most amazing books I've read in a really long time.  It gives a real insight into what goes down in the US armed forces.  It is riveting, terrifying and fascinating.
Gripping, eye-opening, and powerful, American Sniper is the astonishing autobiography of SEAL Chief Chris Kyle, who is the record-holding sniper in U.S. military history. Kyle has more than 150 officially confirmed kills (the previous American record was 109), though his remarkable career total has not been made public by the Pentagon.
In this New York Times bestselling memoir, Kyle shares the true story of his extraordinary decade-long career, including his multiple combat tours in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and elsewhere from 1999-2009.
More info: http://www.amazon.com/American-Sniper-Autobiography-Military-History/dp/0062238868/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391410957&sr=1-1&keywords=american+sniper

Finance

Where is the Rand headed?  What is influencing the exchange rate and how does this benefit ordinary South Africans
Key insight: A prediction ito what level the Rand will reach in 2014 and the impact of QE on the value of the Rand.  (And: Don't panic!)
Diary of Diamond Mine's Auditor.  A friend of mine commutes 300km to work each day to work between Bloemfontein and Lesotho.  The diamond mine that employs him has no skilled workers locally.  This also means his passport gets a lot of wear and tear...


The End of Affluenza
Why is the cost of living suddenly so expensive?  And will it ever get easier, and cheaper?  A look at the impact of energy costs and climate on what we pay for food, fuel and electricity, and how this has a drag effect on incomes, jobs and profits.  And how nature (and the market) will eventually correct this imbalance, probably in our lifetimes.
Read more about Affluenza: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluenza

Photography:
Please note I am available for portfolio shoots, product reviews, event and corporate coverage. For rates sms 072 821 93 87.