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What is the Thai Tax Clearance Certificate?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Thai Tax Clearance Certificates and those are watching this video may be saying to themselves, "what the heck are those?" 

Well those who are hold hands to Thailand who have been here for a long period of time, say over 20 years maybe 25, may remember Tax Clearance Certificates.  In recent years, they have not been, for lack of a better term utilized in nearly the same frequency that they once were, but they still exist and the regulatory structure dealing with Thai Tax Clearance Certificates is still there.

To quote directly from the website of the Revenue Department in Thailand, that is rd.go.th. Quoting directly: "What is a Thai Tax Clearance Certificate? A Tax Clearance Certificate is a certificate issued by the Director-general of the Revenue Department or the Provincial Governor or the delegated authority to a foreigner who is departing Thailand to indicate that he has already paid taxes or that he has provided a guarantor or securities as guarantee for tax liabilities and tax payable.

In the past, and this was long before I believe the VAT, the value added tax system, was brought about here in Thailand, in the past, foreigners that were in the Kingdom especially those who were in prolonged status and like Non-immigrant status etc., they would often times find themselves becoming subject to problems in leaving Thailand if they could not produce a Thai Tax Clearance Certificate and in those circumstances they had to get one and sometimes it was rather problematic to do so especially where they had certain business interests here in the Kingdom. Now as a practical matter, they were effectively phased out.  It is my understanding that about 20 years ago they really stopped doing them in earnest but the regulatory structure as evidenced by the fact that this is on the Revenue Department's website still exists and depending on a given set of circumstances, I have seen limited circumstances where just to be safe, foreigners have been advised to go ahead and obtain a Thai Tax Clearance Certificate just to sort of "put all their ducks in a row". 

Do I think that this is going to be rolled out with the same level of broad usage as it was before? Probably not, but here is what I find interesting.  Where Thai immigration is tightening up the regulations pertaining to Business Visas, O Visas, just the Non-immigrant categories in general, especially with respect to the ones that have work authorization, meanwhile, they are making it easier for people to get things like the 6-month Thai Tourist Visa. A framework may be coming into view which basically they are able to quickly designate who is who at the airport between a Non-immigrant Visa holder and a Tourist visa or 30-day Visa stamp holder, and say "Okay, those folks are clearly tourists. We can deal with them that way. These folks are clearly Non-immigrant and where we have stripped away a lot of the vagueness or the gray area with respect to who is who. For example, in the past, especially with 1-year multi-entry Non-immigrant Visas such as the non-immigrant O or the Non-immigrant B, it was kind of difficult to really say that a non-immigrant Visa holder who simply managed to get one based on the fact that they wanted to spend a prolonged period of time in Thailand, hard to say that that individual wasn’t a long-term tourist. Meanwhile, now where it is much tighter with respect to issuance of multi entry visas abroad, especially in the Non-immigrant categories B, O, Ed for example, and at the same time where in Thailand the extension apparatus has tightened up quite significantly, we are now able to more clearly see the folks that are here on a B Visa they are clearly doing business here. They are not just exploring business, they are doing business. The folks that are here on an O Visa with a Work Permit are clearly working.

So I could see a frame work being set up sometime in the future whereby we could see a resurgence of the Thai Tax Clearance Certificate come about. That being said, I think it is unlikely except in really anomalous cases but not entirely outside the realm of possibility.