This study evaluates the efficiency and effectiveness of the South African tax system in terms of revenue collection, exploitation of statutory tax bases and the achievement of fiscal policy goals. The study involves both a qualitative and quantitative analysis. The qualitative framework examines existing and historical fiscal policy goals, in light of the internationally recognised goals of tax systems and the prevailing economic situation in South Africa and tests the South African tax system for evidence of internationally recognised best practice characteristics in respect of effectiveness and efficiency, utilising an established set of benchmarks. The quantitative framework calculates the effective tax burden on specific types of income, using average effective tax rates. I also calculate synthetic tax bases and calculate projected tax revenues via the application of historical statutory tax rates for comparison to actual tax collections. The study also examines possible alternatives to the existing tax system that are designed to alleviate certain deficiencies.