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Tax Obligations Detailed

Discover employer and employee tax responsibilities in Botswana

Employer tax responsibilities

In Botswana, employers have several tax responsibilities. While they are not typically required to contribute to the Botswana Pensioners' Fund (BPF), some choose to do so voluntarily as a benefit to their employees.

Social Security Contributions

Employers are not mandated to contribute to the BPF. Employees are the primary contributors to this pension fund, while employer participation is voluntary. However, some employers might opt in as a benefit to employees.

Workmen's Compensation Insurance

Employers are required to obtain Workmen's Compensation Insurance to cover potential work-related injuries or illnesses sustained by employees. The premiums for this insurance depend on the industry and assessed risk levels.

Other Potential Contributions

Employers exceeding a certain wage bill threshold may be subject to the Skills Development Levy, which is typically a small percentage of the payroll. For more information, consult the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS).

While not a tax obligation, employers may choose to contribute to private pension funds on behalf of employees.

Important Resources

For tax rates and legislation, the BURS website is the primary point of reference. The Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA) may have additional relevant information.

Employee tax deductions

The primary tax deduction for employees is the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) system, which withholds income tax at the source based on a progressive tax rate structure. This is the main form of income tax deduction.

Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE)

The latest tax brackets and thresholds can be found on the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) website.

Botswana Pensioners' Fund (BPF)

Employees are also required to contribute a percentage of their gross salary to the Botswana Pensioners' Fund for retirement benefits. The BPF contribution rates may vary, so it's best to check the BURS website for the most up-to-date information.

Other Potential Deductions

Employees may make additional voluntary contributions to private pension funds for enhanced retirement savings. If applicable, union membership fees might be deducted from salaries.


The standard VAT rate in Botswana is 14%. Businesses whose annual turnover exceeds 1 million Botswana Pula (BWP) are required to register for VAT.

VAT on Services Rendered within Botswana

Services provided within Botswana are typically subject to the standard 14% VAT rate. However, certain essential services, like healthcare, education, and financial services, may be exempt from VAT.

VAT on Imported Services

VAT may apply to imported services under a "reverse charge" mechanism. In these cases, the recipient of the service in Botswana becomes responsible for calculating and paying VAT, even if the supplier is a foreign entity. It's essential to assess whether an imported service is considered taxable under Botswana's VAT provisions.

Important Considerations

For certain services, the "place of supply" rules determine VAT applicability. It's crucial to analyze where the service is deemed to be supplied, as it can impact VAT obligations. Some services might be zero-rated, meaning VAT is charged at 0%. This typically applies to exports or specific cross-border services.

Tax incentives

Botswana provides a variety of tax incentives to encourage and boost investment in key economic sectors. These incentives can significantly lessen the tax burden for businesses, making Botswana an attractive investment destination.

Special Economic Zones (SEZs)

Businesses operating within SEZs benefit from a reduced Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rate of 5% for the first 10 years of operation and 10% thereafter. Other incentives include VAT exemption on purchases of raw materials for export-oriented manufacturing, duty-free imports of specialist plant and machinery for manufacturing purposes, no exchange controls, full repatriation of profits and capital, and a waiver on transfer duty on land and property.

Selibe Phikwe Economic Development Unit (SPEDU) Region

Companies operating a qualifying business in the SPEDU region are granted a CIT rate of 5% for the first five years of operation, followed by a special rate of 10% thereafter.

Sector-Specific Incentives

Concessionary CIT rates are available for businesses in the agricultural and tourism sectors. The manufacturing sector enjoys various incentives, including a 50% tax abatement for five years, phased out over 10 years, accelerated depreciation on buildings (over 10 years), and exporters' deduction (promotion costs) of 125% to 175%.

Additional Incentives

Companies can deduct 200% of their training expenditures for employees in determining taxable income. There are also further negotiated tax rates for approved relocations. The Minister of Finance has discretion to grant additional tax relief for projects deemed beneficial to Botswana.

Foreign Tax Credit

Businesses can claim a credit for foreign withholding tax paid on income earned outside of Botswana, offsetting it against Botswanan tax liability.


It's crucial to confirm eligibility for specific incentives based on business sector, location, and investment criteria. Adherence to applicable regulations and guidelines is essential to maintain eligibility for tax benefits. Consultation with a tax advisor is strongly recommended to explore applicable incentives and ensure correct application. Tax laws and incentives can undergo changes; staying updated on current regulations is important.

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