What Is Tax Certificate? Definition, Overview, And How It Works

What is tax certificate? This article contains everything you need to know about tax certificate and how it works?

Taxpayers are usually advised to pay all their outstanding taxes as at when due, this makes them patriotic citizens of a state. One benefit of tax compliance is that it gives you access to several government benefits. 

To certify that you always pay your taxes, the tax authorities usually issue a tax certificate. This certificate can only be gotten when you apply for it through the relevant agencies.

Several countries have various uses of tax certificates and applying for these certificates differs among countries.

In this article, we’ll be looking at what a tax certificate is, the overview, and how it works. 

What Is Tax Certificate?

A tax certificate is an official document showing a taxpayer’s current state of tax. It is an official document that certifies that a taxpayer has fulfilled his tax obligation.

The tax authorities issue the tax certificate to the taxpayer as evidence that taxes owed on the property, profit, or income have been paid.

Also, it’s an official document issued by the relevant tax authorities to a taxpayer certifying that the tax accessed on the income from all taxpayer sources has been duly paid.

The tax certificate serves as proof that a taxpayer has fulfilled his obligation to the tax authorities. It also certified that a taxpayer had paid all its tax liabilities when it was discontinued or transferred to a new owner.

Why Is Tax Certificate Important?

There are various reasons why a tax certificate is important. Aside from the main fact that it proves that you’re free from all tax liabilities, It helps you access government grants.

You also require a tax certificate when you’re dissolving your business. It comes in handy when you’re bidding for government contracts and so much more.

How Does It Work?

There are various ways it can be used, tax certificates like income clearance certificates are required when a business wants to dissolve.

When a business wants to transfer ownership they’ll need a tax certificate in the form of a sales clearance certificate, while estates with high-value assets might be required to get an estate tax clearance certificate when the estate owner dies and his properties are to be shared to their beneficiaries.

These tax certificates prove that the entity or individuals are not owing to any tax obligation to the relevant authorities.

Various countries use these certificates for different reasons. Since tax rules and regulations differ among jurisdictions and countries, tax certificates can be needed for various reasons. 

  • In Canada and Ireland, tax certificates are used for transactions that involve the purchase of real properties or in case an estate owner dies. Ireland also needs a this certificate when businesses or companies apply for or renew various licenses like gaming licenses or liquor licenses. Individuals also going for public offices must also get a tax certificate.
  • Local government in the United States of America requires tax certificates when an entity is applying for state grants etc. Some jurisdictions might also require tax certificates when businesses are bidding for government contracts. This certificate serves to prove that a taxpayer is current on their tax payment. People interested in purchasing your business might also require a tax certificate to confirm that the current owners have fulfilled all tax obligations.
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How Do I Get For A Tax Certificate?

Getting this certificate depends on your location and the authorities in charge of tax rules there.

The department of revenue issues tax certificates in most states, while the Department of Taxes, Secretary of State, Department of Finance, or any other eligible authorities issue tax certificates in others.

Most states provide forms online for you to request a tax certificate, while others require a written request.

The requirements for getting one to vary among jurisdictions. Some requirements depend on the type of business you’re doing, the industry, and the location within your state.

Before getting one, it is good to research the state agency in charge of issuing it to learn what it entails and what it covers before applying for it

Some authorities and state revenue agencies include employment taxes like withholding tax to know if a taxpayer has any outstanding tax obligations.

While in other states, you’ll have to meet the Department of Labor to request employment tax information.

Getting this certificate all depends on your location, so to avoid mistakes, it is better to thoroughly research the agencies in charge of taxes in your jurisdiction before making any decisions.

What Do You Require To Get a Tax Certificate?

Asides from inquiring about how to get a tax certificate from the relevant tax authorities, some things you’ll be needing include the following:

  • The name, address, and phone number or email address of the entity or individual
  • The date the business commenced or was sold
  • Escrow company information
  • The tax or identification number of the entity or individual

What Are The Benefits of a Tax Certificate?

There are several benefits attached to having a tax certificate. This include

It Shows you do not owe tax liabilities:

Tax certificates serve as proof to the tax authorities that you’re free from all tax obligations. It also shows that you don’t owe any taxes to other businesses you want to work with. 

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Application for government loans

These certificates are very important when a business or individual wants to get a loan from the government.

The government will want to know if you’re not owing to any tax liabilities before granting you a loan since they wouldn’t want to give loans out to entities that cannot pay their taxes.

Sales of business

When a business or entity wants to sell the business or transfer ownership to a new owner, it requires a tax certificate.

It shows the new owners that you’re not owing to any tax liabilities and that they’re not purchasing a business that has some tax liabilities.

Winding up or dissolving your business

This is also necessary to dissolve your company or close your business. You cannot dissolve your business without showing the relevant authorities evidence that you’re not owing to any tax liabilities.

Some businesses owe some debts to various parties when dissolving and if the tax authorities are one of them, you’ll need to clear your debts before winding up.

Application for government contracts

Without a tax certificate, you can’t bid for government contracts. The government would only offer contracts to eligible businesses or individuals who are not owing to any tax liabilities and the only way you can prove or provide evidence that you’re free from all tax obligations is by getting your tax certificate. That’s the only document that verifies that you’re not owing to any tax liabilities.

Contesting for public offices

Since some countries require your tax certificate when you’re contesting for public offices it means you’re not eligible to get recognition if you’re owing tax liabilities.

No country would want to have a tax offender occupy any public seat. If you can’t fulfill your tax obligations, what do you expect others to do when you become a public officer, that’s why getting a tax certificate is very important.

Also, these certificates are important when an estate owner dies because before the estates are shared with the beneficiaries, it is necessary to see the estate owner’s tax certificate.

This will ensure they are free from any tax liability. It is also beneficial for retirees who want to collect or get access to their retirement funds. 

What Are The Consequences of not Having a Tax Certificate?

Tax certificates are documents that are required for specific reasons and this is why they cover a specific timeframe. This certificate could last for a year or more, depending on the tax rules and what you need it for. 

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Since entities or individuals require tax certificates for some special reasons, the consequences of not having this certificate when you require it include:

  • You’ll not be able to apply for government loans and grants
  • You won’t have the right to bid for government contracts
  • Other businesses would find it hard purchasing your business and you’ll find it hard dissolving your business when you want to.
  • You’ll be disqualified from contesting for public offices


What is a tax certificate?

It is an official document issued by the relevant tax authorities to a taxpayer certifying that the tax accessed on the income from all taxpayer sources has been duly paid.

Why is a tax certificate important?

A tax certificate is important because it shows that you’re free from tax liabilities, it helps you get grants, loans, and easily bid for government contracts.

How long does the tax certificate last?

It usually lasts for a year or more but it is usually for a short time.

How can I get a tax certificate?

You can get it from state agencies in charge of issuing tax certificates in your jurisdiction.

How can I apply for a tax certificate?

Application for this certificate could either be done online or through a written request. It all depends on the tax authorities in charge and your location.


A tax certificate is an important document that entities and individuals should have, especially when going to public offices or bidding for contracts.

The process of getting this certificate is straightforward. Just like tax rules differ among countries, so does the need for a tax certificate.

Also, they are documents that certify that a taxpayer has no tax obligations to the tax authorities, though one thing you should keep in mind is that they are not meant to last for a long time.

It is better to be a dedicated taxpayer to avoid running into issues when you need one

I hope this article has given you more insights into this topic.



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