Tax expert advocates stiffer punishment for tax evaders

Mr Emmanuel Kofi Nti,Commissioner General,GRA

Mr Emmanuel Kofi Nti,Commissioner General,GRA

A former Deputy Commissioner of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has recommended stiffer punishment for those who fail to pay their statutory taxes to the state.

Mr James Lewis Anaman, the former Deputy Commissioner, said: “Failure to pay taxes must be seen as a serious crime against the state,” and suggested that sanctions should be applied accordingly “without fear or favour to serve as deterrent to others.”

Mr Anaman made the recommendation at a tax education seminar, themed, “Enhancing voluntary tax compliance for nation building,” held in Takoradi last Thursday.

“We need to look at enforcement of the law with all the seriousness,” he said, adding that the time for sensitisation seminars, workshops and open forums were over, “let’s stop treating recalcitrants with kid’s gloves.”

Mr Anaman said the time had come for Ghana to make taxation a top priority to facilitate development, “bearing in mind that the consequences of our failure to develop and lay down good economic and social infrastructure will weigh heavily on generations to come.”

He said the provisions on enforcement of the tax law should be procedurally pursued to its logical conclusion, because “our tax law takes its spirit from our constitution, so it must be respected and obeyed.”

Mr Anaman, however, said for the enforcement to be successful, “enforcers will need to adopt quality legal processes and procedures to avoid legal obstacles; we also need to create room for specialisation in the various tax types,  including income tax, VAT and  customs.”

He suggested the engagement of the requisite and well trained tax staff to undertake data on every activity in the system as “a lot of tax information are floating around and needed to be tapped to enhance the revenue yield.”

Mr Anaman said the government needed adequate financial resources to transform the country, pointing out that non-payment of taxes was a reason for “our underdevelopment.”

“And the blame should be laid at the doorsteps of those who do not file and pay their taxes, and deny the state the needed resources for development.”

Mr Anaman hoped that the tax education had opened the minds of participants and also removed challenges that hindered maximisation of revenue.

Mr Ebenezer Ahetor, Assistant Commissioner of the Custom Division of the GRA, highlighted the role of tax administration in national development, citing road, health and infrastructure improvement as examples.

FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, TAKORADI

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