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The idea of Tax Clearances was a master stroke by SARS. If you have traded, you can’t get one unless you’ve done your bookkeeping and your tax returns.

Many creditors will not pay unless the supplier produces a tax clearance certificate. Whether or not that is just a ruse to delay payment, the effect is that we often get people coming to us for an urgent tax clearance so that they can get a payment from a debtor.

That’s when they learn that we’ll first have to do their bookkeeping (usually for three or four years), then their Provisional Tax Returns and finally their Annual Tax Returns. We usually have to do all of this very quickly because they’re waiting for a significant payment. I guess that will always be what weekends are for!

The moral of the story? Owning a company carries the responsiblity of bookkeeping, tax returns and CIPC returns. You can either start right and stay right or wait until you need a tax clearance in a heck of a hurry. When we form a company or sell a shelf company, we do the first six months bookkeeping at no charge, hoping that this will kick start the client into compliance from the get go.

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