I am a pensioner and permanent resident (German nationality) since 1996. My wife and I lived from our savings, never had any earnings in South Africa and therefore never registered for taxes. In 2000 my wife got breast cancer and her treatment negatively influenced our savings. I therefore started consulting work outside South Africa in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Saudi Arabia. I was always more than 1 year working in these countries but never more than 2 years. I am now 71 years of age and got a contract for one year as CEO in Saudi Arabia.
You will not need to register in South Africa as you have not and are not earning any South African income. However if have money invested in SA and you earn interest or dividends or some form of return then you may need to pay taxes and therefore would need a tax number. Do you earn any income at all in SA? Do you also meet the definition of tax resident of South Africa?
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