The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has launched its 2019 Tax and Good Governance week in Takoradi with the determination to prosecute all tax offenders.
It explained that the filing of tax returns was both statutory and a constitutional requirement and must be adhered to in accordance with the laws of Ghana.
The week on the theme, ‘File your tax returns, pay your taxes, move Ghana beyond aid’ involves media engagements.
In his address read for him, the Commissioner-General of GRA Emmanuel, said, “The legal department has been directed to prosecute all tax offenders in accordance with our determination to let the public know that it is not business as usual at the GRA.”
He said, the filing of annual tax returns and payment of taxes were not a matter of choice, noting that section 124 of the Tax Act 2015 (Act 896) stated that “ a person shall file with the Commissioner-General not later than four months after each year of assessment,a return of income for the year.”
Again, Mr Nti said, article 42 of the 1992 Constitution also stated that the exercise and enjoyments of rights and freedoms was not separate from the performance of duties and obligations, adding that “it shall be the duty of every citizen to declare his income honestly to appropriate and lawful agencies and satisfy all tax obligations”.
He explained that filing of annual tax returns by citizens for the previous year by April 30 in the current year was important on the GRA’s calendar as it helped the public to focus on the activity and also the benefits they would gain.
He said the GRA had developed an application called the Integrated Tax Application and Preparation System (iTaPS) through which tax payers would conveniently file their personal tax returns from the comforts of their homes and offices.
Launching the programme, the Western Regional Minister, Dr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, suggested that the review of the law on assets declaration is linked with filing of tax returns, to address the deficit between revenue mobilisation and the growing demands of citizens for development projects and better services.
“GRA must come back to Parliament for an amendment of the law on declaration of assets to be linked to the filing of tax returns and it should not be for only government officials, but, for all Ghanaians, so that we can address the deficits,” he said.
“Indeed, the President has directed that as a sign and good faith and citizenship, ministers of state, government appointees, and public officials ensure that they file their 2018 annual tax returns before the deadline of April 30, 2019,” the regional minister added.
He noted that in 2018, the government declared a tax amnesty to enable taxpayers file returns and make outstanding tax payments for previous years without prosecution as required by law, stressing that the intervention was aimed at ensuring voluntary compliance by the tax payer.
Dr Darko-Mensah, appealed to all persons earning income to respond positively to the campaigns and honour their tax obligations.
The theme for the event, he believed, was an invitation to Ghanaians to play their roles on revenue mobilisation for Ghana to become the developed country she desired.
The Chairman of the Western Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church, Rev. Timothy Ernest Annor, noted that Ghanaians were not encouraged to pay their taxes due to ignorance, while those who know their responsibilities were also not motivated to do so.
FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, TAKORADI