Chartered Accountant & Business Consultant - Meredith Harington

Taxation Support Services

"People who complain about taxes can be divided into two classes:  men and women."  –  Author Unknown

History of Tax

Governments have imposed taxes on their citizens in virtually every major civilization dating back at least to the Egyptians, who placed levies on cooking oil to finance the construction of the pyramids.  The Greek Athenians imposed taxes during wartime, but it was the Roman Empire that first imposed a broad system of taxation.

During the reign of Caesar Augustus, the most noted of Roman tax strategists, cities were given the responsibility of collecting taxes, including inheritance taxes to pay retirement benefits for Roman soldiers.  The Romans also were the first to impose a sales tax.  The British and the Dutch followed Augustus's model for those taxes in their day.  Taxes followed the English settlers to the New World and the cry of "taxation without representation is tyranny" became a rallying cry leading the American Revolution.

Tax Revolt

One of the most famous events in American Colonial history was the Boston Tea Party, an incident where colonists dressed up like Indians and threw barrels of tea off ships into Boston harbor to protest levies imposed on the popular commodity.  This was not the first tax revolt however. In 11th century England Lady Godiva, wife of the Earl of Mercia, agreed to ride naked through the street of Coventry if he would reduce the high taxes on its citizens.  In the United States, there have been times in history when the government was financed mostly of high import and export tariffs and taxes of distilled spirits and tobacco.  Additional taxes were imposed in times of war, particularly the Civil War, when the first national income tax was adopted.

Modern Era

In the US the Civil War taxes were not repealed until 1872, which at the time were paid at a rate of 3 percent for persons earning from $600 to $10,000 a year.  Civil War legislation also created what was to become the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), then called the Bureau of Internal Revenue.  The income tax would not reappear until 1894 when Congress instituted a flat income tax, but that was ruled unconstitutional in 1895.

The 16th amendment of the United States Constitution brought the income tax back for good in 1913. Since then taxes and rates have fluctuated up and down, particularly in times of war, with the highest tax rate for the wealthy rising as high as 91 percent.  Recent tax reform under President George W. Bush has reduced that to a maximum of less than 40 percent for the highest tax bracket.

Taxes are inevitable. Income tax has become increasingly complex in South Africa, and punitive penalties have been introduced for non-compliance (and the taxes prescribed have to be paid timeously).

But there is more to taxation than compliance. By structuring your affairs and transactions optimally, you can legitimately save substantial amounts in income tax, capital gains tax and estate duties.

Meredith Harington recognises the effects that taxes can have in eroding wealth creation, and accordingly we offer a wide range of taxation support services, both for compliance and tax planning. We attempt to take a proactive rather than reactive approach to tax services. By keeping current on tax legislation, we are in a position to identify key tax planning opportunities that minimise both your current and future tax liabilities.


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