Management of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) must put in checks and balances that will stop some recalcitrant staff from colluding with clients to evade payment of taxes, Alhaji Amidu Sulemana, Upper West Regional Minister, has said.
He said there were reported cases of some staff of the GRA colluding with clients to evade tax through various mechanisms including under-invoicing at the expense of the government.
Alhaji Sulemana who was speaking during a day’s tax education programme organised by the GRA in Wa cautioned, “This attitude must stop if they want to gain public confidence in the tax collection system”.
The Regional Minister said the development of the country hinges greatly on a vibrant and purposeful tax system, noting however that many people in Ghana always failed to file their tax returns annually resulting in tax underpayment.
He said some people paid taxes but enjoyed other services from the government which would require them to pay additional tax if they filed their tax returns at the end of the year to GRA.
“Many of us do not pay the right tax; if we file our taxes annually and it is required we pay additional taxes on other benefits we enjoy, most of us will live very organised lifestyles”, he noted.
The Regional Minister said personally, he had filed tax returns for 2014 and had to pay more than GH¢4,000 as additional tax to the GRA.
Alhaji Sulemani noted that as the country strived to improve its middle income status, it was imperative to develop an integrated and modernised tax system which would actualise the national vision.
He pointed out that the GRA had reached a very critical stage where it was working to transform and modernise its operations to achieve the needed revenue targets.
The regional minister noted, however, that the time, resources, commitment and sacrifice needed to achieve that goal were enormous but limited, hence the need for the public to support the Authority to carefully strategise and judiciously use all available resources at its disposal to achieve the nation’s developmental goals.
Alhaji Sulemana suggested to the Authority to make clear and simple tax laws, provide reliable services to tax payers, assist tax payers to understand and meet their tax obligations and, above all, provide feedback on tax uses to ensure optimal revenue collection and maximum voluntary tax compliance.
Ebenezer Mensah, Chief Revenue Officer and Head of Small Tax Office in Wa, said taxation was the life blood of every nation and that no nation or government could survive without taxes.
He noted that if the needed amount of taxes should be mobilised, the taxpayers or taxpaying public must be educated on the importance of taxation, to increase their level of compliance.
Mr. Mensah hinted that one of the strategies adopted by modern tax administrators to improve and encourage voluntary tax compliance was public tax education and awareness.
The Head of Small Tax Office said education of taxpayers had been carried out over the years through the mass media explaining the requirements of the laws.
He added: “This time round the authority has adopted the face-to-face method of education to ensure more understanding and compliance.”
He appealed to participants to be more interactive through asking questions and sharing of ideas to increase their understanding and sense of responsibility, as well as moral obligation towards tax payment.