Tax Clock 2020: How much of your work day is spent paying taxes?

Did you know that you don’t just pay taxes in Rands, but in hours too?

Tax Clock is an easy-to-use one-click tool that allows you to calculate how many hours you spend on government services and where you money may be going. Tax forms part of your salary, which means that a portion of your 9–5 goes towards the development of the state. This includes improvements, maintenance and the introduction of things like healthcare, safety and security, housing, roads, railways and social grants.

The Tax clock is updated every year on budget day to reflect the latest figures. This isn’t always a straightforward process as the structure of the budget is not always the same. We also selected certain areas of interest to highlight which aren’t reflected in the high-level budget, but rather bundled into a more generic line-item. For instance, Police and Defense might be part of a large Safety and Security item.

The idea behind the Tax Clock is to explain a complicated topic to people in terms that are personal and relevant to them. Most people don’t listen to the budget speech, but are rather interested in how much tax they will be paying in the current year. The budget however, is far more than that, it is a clear indication of government policy, far more than political rhetoric. Government energy is directed toward activities that are more well-funded.

The Tax Clock allocates a user’s 8-hour workday into slices proportionate to budget allocation. Most prominently, it presents to the user when during their day they stop paying tax and start working for themselves. Within the taxed portion, we display the orders of magnitude of government expenses. To me, the most shocking figure is debt re-payment costs which are almost equal in size to health and education. We also how higher eduction, so prominent in the news, is only allocated a small slice of the budget.

The Tax Clock follows our philosophy that data should be made available to everyone, even those usually considered data illiterate. Our challenge is to package it in formats that are relevant to them.

You can use the Tax Clock to better understand how and why taxes work, and to ensure that you are a participatory and law-abiding member of the workforce. For the first part of the day (roughly, two or so hours), your hours will go towards services like economic development, home affairs, basic education and child support grant. From then on after, you will spend your time working for yourself. So, although it might come as a shock to some people that part of your day is spent working for the state, most of your time goes towards working for yourself.

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