Tax compliance is important, get your affairs in order. 

By Tokiso TKay Nthebe

For as long as I can recall, conversations about tax legislation, compliance or filing annual returns have been uncomfortable and boring for many. Not only are taxes complicated to understand, but trying to comply often seems even harder because of all the jargon and several steps to follow. Despite my best efforts to make tax compliance fun, entertaining and easier to grasp through writing, speaking and posting educational tax content on social media, even I have my struggles trying to be a compliant and law-abiding citizen.

From as early as 2016, I have always committed to filing and submitting my annual tax returns. Not only because compliance is the right thing to do, but because as a financial planner, tax planning is an important pillar of one’s financial well-being. I have also made it my lifelong mission to promote tax compliance, encouraging my family, friends, colleagues and clients to do the same. 

A proud tax-compliant and law-abiding citizen, I have written many articles, created videos and dedicated an entire chapter to tax compliance in my book, Let’s Change the Script: Chelete Ha Se Parcel! Like clockwork, I have filed my returns for years and applied for my tax clearance certificate (TCC) annually. It was only until January 2024 when renewing my TCC which expired in November 2023 that my application was declined because of an outstanding payment amounting to R3 360.22. Shocked and disappointed, I struggled to reconcile how I owed the tax authority money, especially when I have filed annually. After several engagements with the tax authority, trying to make sense of the amount, this experience taught me a few lessons which I will share in this blog post. 

Tax compliance is your responsibility. 

As aforementioned, tax planning is an important pillar of your financial plan. It is therefore important to ensure that your tax affairs are in order and that you are always compliant. As discussed in chapter nine of Let’s Change the Script: Chelete Ha Se Parcel! the responsibility to ensure you are compliant lies with you! To ensure compliance, there are important steps to follow as a citizen. In the same chapter, I discuss the steps to follow such as applying for a tax identification number (TIN) as a taxpayer, submitting annual returns and applying for the TCC.  A big step and mistake that I missed in my journey was not completing the entire process and requesting my account statement, also called a ledger from the tax authority. This costly mistake resulted in an outstanding payment and my application being declined. 

Why is it important to request a ledger from the authority?

The last process is the reconciliation between you and the tax authority. By requesting a ledger from the tax authority, you ensure that your filing and payments are reflected in the tax authority’s system. For years, I have filed but never requested a ledger to reconcile and ensure things are in order. From my 2016 submission, there was an outstanding amount that I needed to pay, which attracted penalties every month, amounting to R3,360.22. Granted, I can argue that the tax authority should have communicated the outstanding amount or declined previous TCC applications, but the responsibility to comply lies with me. 

This experience did not only jeopardise my reputation and business opportunities that require one to be cleared for tax but also negatively impacted my finances. If you have ignored your tax affairs or missed some steps like me, I encourage you to prioritise your tax affairs in 2024 because tax compliance is your responsibility as a citizen of any country. Should you need help, get a copy of my book or consult a qualified tax consultant or financial planner. 

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