If you are an African living in Africa, the concept of black tax probably isn’t strange to you. Chances are you have seen cases or heard stories where an older child is forced to take up some financial responsibility in a family. From being made to pay a younger sibling’s school fees, to becoming the sole breadwinner of the family, some people have seen it all. 

Essentially, black tax is a portion of your income paid to your whole family or a member of your family (a parent or sibling) to support them financially. Although Black Tax is originally a South African concept, it is now commonly used in the broad African scene, even by Africans in the diaspora. 

The concept of black tax can easily be considered an offshoot of the African culture which is deeply rooted in communalism, respect for the elderly, and caring for others. However, even though black tax as a concept can be justified on certain grounds, it is usually burdensome to young adults who are still trying to find their feet financially. 

If you are trying to stick to a budget or you’re saving towards a financial goal, consistent pressure from “dependents” can derail you or make things difficult for you. So, it is important to consider all the things at stake and take the right steps to keep you on track financially. Here are some tips we think might help:

  1. Factor the Tax Into Your Monthly Budget
    The easiest way to avoid black tax is simply to say a big “NO”. But, when it comes down to it, can you really say no to a sibling whose education is at stake or a parent on the hospital bed? A more realistic approach is to add black tax to your monthly budget and put a cap on it. Yes, you can budget for black tax the same way you budget for other expenses. Just make sure you set a limit, and when you reach it, simply say “NO”.
  2. Determine Your Responsibilities And Prioritize
    Are the bills you currently help with recurring bills or one-off payments? Are they urgent and are they important? Ask questions that will help you understand what your money will be spent on and try to assess whether it is a necessity or luxury. Don’t forget that you are your number one priority, so always choose yourself first. Tonight Show Thats Right GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
  3. Encourage Financial Literacy Within The Family
    Try to advocate for financial literacy amongst your family members. This is crucial because sometimes, the problem may not be a lack of money, but poor management on your family’s part. Helping them to do better with money will take the stress off you in the long run.
  4. Avoid Disclosing Your Salary
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    While this post is not an attempt to make you shut your family out, the importance of keeping your monthly income to yourself can not be overstated. Disclosing your salary to your family may give them a certain impression and leave you with unnecessary expectations. Be guided!