A milch cow is defined by the Collins English dictionary as “a source of easy income”. In SA, governments at the national and local levels find that source in middle-class taxpayers and ratepayers — usually the same people. But now the milch cow is variously exhausted, overburdened or fleeing to foreign fields.

In addition to the multiple forms of progressive tax payable by individuals to the national fiscus, on the regressive tax front every taxpayer must also pay VAT on purchases of goods and services. Of some relevance in the run-up to the local polls on November 1, the same taxpayers are also in the main homeowners or landlords and thus liable for the mainstays of municipal financing: property taxes (or rates) and service charges...

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