The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), in collaboration with the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), is to carry out sustained nationwide tax education programmes to ensure voluntary compliance.
President of GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng, has urged Ghana’s tax authorities to ensure equity in the collection of taxes among businesses to ensure that businesses pay their taxes willingly.
Speaking at the launch of an educational collaboration between GUTA and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in Accra on Friday, Dr Obeng said that “considering the massive social interventions being undertaken by the state, we owe it as a duty to pay tax.”
He, however, urged the government to map each commercial area to have a proper handle of which areas in which taxes are being paid, to enable it to rope in those areas which are slacking in their tax duties.
He urged the government to ensure a reduction in taxes paid by the business community, saying “taxes that are affordable, ensure compliance.”
As a means of ensuring tax compliance, he proposed that the government fuses the Value Added Tax (VAT) with the income tax system to ensure that taxpayers can readily pay.
This, he said, will clear the issue of backlog, which usually hinders business people from fulfilling their tax obligations.
He described as unfair, the current system where only a tiny fraction of the population pays taxes, which, he says, disincentivises others from their taxpaying duties.
“We should put in the right programmes and systems to ensure that there is parity in the payments.”
Speaking at the event, Mr Edward Gyambrah, Acting Commissioner Domestic Tax Revenue Division, said the strategic partnership with GUTA would enable the GRA to realise its vision of mobilising enough revenue for national development.
He said available statistics indicated that the number of persons in the informal sector who are in the tax net was low.
“This situation is unfortunate and I believe the time has come for a change in attitude. As a country, our vision to wean ourselves from donor funding will be an illusion, if those who must contribute their quota in the form of taxes refuse to do so,” he said at the launch of the collaboration in Accra.
He urged GUTA members, especially the National Executives, to see it as a civic duty to encourage those outside the tax net to get on board.
Mr Gyambrah said if everyone contributed the fair share of taxes, there would be enough in the government’s kitty for the provision of adequate developmental projects for the benefit of the citizenry.
He said the GRA was continuously working to improve on its services and in that direction, the Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD) had commenced the first phase of a nationwide restructuring exercise in Accra and Kumasi with the aim of creating offices not on the basis of turnovers as it was previously but rather that of jurisdiction.
The offices would perform mainly administrative, centralised audit and enforcement functions and Taxpayer Service Centres (TSCs) which would carry out all other functions such as registration, receiving of returns, complaints, enquiries and payments, compliance, debt management and tax education.
The Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance in the course of the year inaugurated the Tax Audit and Quality Assurance Department to ensure improved quality of audits and provide improved revenue assurance.
The Department will manage the centralised audit planning process, serve as the audit centre of excellence, monitor and ensure quality audits and investigate significant tax gaps including cases of suspected tax evasion, avoidance and fraud, he said.
He said the GRA had deployed an end-to-end Customs administration system, the Integrated Customs Management System, which is presently running successfully and helped to reduce the turn-around time for importers and ensured the efficient management and collection of customs duties and taxes.