Black Tax

How Black Tax Delays Success Among Working Young Adults


Black tax is a term used when university fees, lives, siblings’ bills, and other family members’ expenses are made your responsibility. This usually happens after getting a job after your education/vocational training. You are employed and working yet you remain poor. It is the Black tax that delays your success and economic freedom. Black tax is one of the serious yet unnoticed factors obstructing the economic freedom for many working young adults in many parts of the world, including South Africa.

Socio-economic and Psychological impacts of the Black Tax

Many young working Black adults do not enjoy their hard-earned income because of the Black tax.  Mostly, they are the only breadwinners in their families. They face stressful challenges and the huge responsibility of caring for more than five people per household every month. 

They bear a huge financial burden of lifting many other relatives out of poverty with the little they earn. As a result, some people would consider abandoning their jobs, arguing that it is preferable to be unemployed than to be working but not enjoy the perks of it.


Who are the victims of the Black tax?

Unlike those who grew up in affluent and economically privileged families, the victims of the Black tax are usually those who come from a poor family background. Knowing that the situation is bad where they come from, they become responsible for many things, including buying food and paying many other monthly expenses for their relatives. 

“Imagine you earn 10K per month, and three of your relatives are starting their university education. They will need your financial support to cater for their tuition fee, accommodation and monthly allowances for their upkeep. How much of your money is left for you to enjoy? Would you say you’re moving forward or staying put?”. Those are words from one of Ndumo’s residents, Sphamandla Mthombeni.  The above question is asked rhetorically. However, it is worth mentioning that the Black tax delays the success and economic freedom of many working young adults because they must prioritize other people first. 

Andile Nhleko, a young working adult in my hometown, referred to himself as a “victim of Black tax”. He stated that it is humanity and part of our Zulu culture that we should support our relatives to get out of poverty. However, what is painful is that some of their siblings and relatives hate them if they have not been able to help, failing to understand they are not also rich; they are being paid peanuts. This young adult further stated, ‘Yes, we are employed, but we are struggling, we are victims of Black tax, and we carry a heavy responsibility alone.’



Seeing a young working adult not even able to afford even to buy himself a car or house, wondering and saying all sorts of things, you must first think of the Black tax. Black tax is a real issue, an unnoticed enemy and obstacle. It impedes success rate and economic freedom for many young working adults in many parts of South Africa and other parts of the world. This is predominant among individuals from poor family backgrounds and communities. 


Zakhele Shongwe


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