Clear Communication – An Absolute Business, Tax and Personal Imperative

In this article, Niel du Plessis shares his view on recent tax and communication developments.

In a recent court case in the Gauteng Division, Pretoria, of the High Court (Pienaar Brothers (Pty) Ltd v CSARS & the Minister of Finance Case 87760/2014), the Court by implication condoned retrospective legislation where adequate warning existed. This could potentially mean that even if legislation is promulgated only at a later date, it could have been in operation from a date in the past.

The point to take away from this, is that your advisers should be up to date with developments affecting the actions you are considering and not only consider current promulgated legislation, but also other communications that could be relevant, in this scenario, from SARS.

My personal opinion, is that this does not meet my criteria as “clear communication”.

Clear communication is when there is open communication, properly communicated and understood by all parties concerned. Trying to filter through all statements from legislative authorities and trying to deduce its possible implications, is a guessing game in many instances and potentially quite dangerous.

The above is relevant to legislative and specifically taxation affairs, but also finds application in common business practice.

In our industry as a family wealth office assisting clients with tax, compliance and accounting services, it is important to have clear communication with clients on the services they are receiving and also the costs associated with this. Formal quotations and engagement letters assist in this regard, but the most important factor, is to TALK to your clients and maintain a good working business relationship.

Have you received charges for services provided that you:

  1. Did not know you needed;
  2. Did not approve; or
  3. Cannot determine what exactly has been done?

I recently had a discussion with a business owner who received an invoice from a service provider for services that ticked the first two points above. He was disgruntled about the costs charged to him, but what amazed me most, was that he was still not questioning the service provider.

Many other clients might have decided that this was a deal breaker and started looking for another service provider. Should this service provider have however decided to rather notify the client of the need for the work that was done, obtained pre-approval from the client and then deliver the service based upon the agreement between them, clear communication would have prevailed and both parties would have been satisfied with the result.

To our existing clients, this is an invitation to contact us should you have any questions or just need to discuss factors you feel are relevant to your business. To our potential future clients, this is an invitation for a cup of coffee and a discussion on how clear communication can add value to your business.