The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) has urged the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the National Identification Authority (NIA) to expedite action on the integration of their systems in order to rope in eligible taxpaying Ghanaians onto the tax net.
It has also asked the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Ghana and the Economic Management Team to take pragmatic steps to resolve the current economic challenges which were negatively affecting businesses in the country, including exchange rate depreciation, high inflation and high cost of borrowing.
Mr Benedict Doh, Finance Manager, GII, said these when he presented the GII’s survey findings on “Exploring innovative measures to promote voluntary tax compliance” at the National Tax Policy Forum organised by the initiative with funding support from the Australian Aid in Accra yesterday.
“Ghana’s tax net can be broadened based on the 16.65 million Ghanaians who have registered with the NIA and issued with the unique identity card (Ghana Card),” Mr Doh stated.
“The Ministry of Finance must reconsider the frequency at which exchange rates are changed at the ports and the Bank of Ghana should come up with policies that reduce interest cost,” he added.
Mr Doh indicated that the survey, which had 503 responses with majority of them being private sector actors, had almost half of them representing 42.1 per cent saying that non-compliance was mostly because of harsh economic conditions and the mismanagement of tax revenues.
Mr Doh said that 72.4 per cent of the respondents also said that they were not aware of any public education programme on payment of taxes for which reason the GRA should intensify its tax education programmes to reach the masses.
“The GRA must intensify public education on the online filing and payment of taxes system as most taxpayers especially those in the informal sector are having some difficulties and high compliance cost in the use of the platforms,” he added.
GII’s Finance Manager again said the GRA should simplify the tax laws, forms and other administrative processes so as to eliminate all complexities that deterred most taxpayers especially those in the informal sector from complying voluntarily.
A Senior Director at KPMG, Mr Michael Boateng, underscored that non-compliance was prevalent because people knew there were no implications “because in other countries, they know that if they do not pay, someone will come after them”.
He asked the GRA to deepen sensitisation on the need to pay taxes and liaise with religious leaders to help in the enforcement of tax compliance.
Dr Alex Ampabem, Fiscal Lead, OXFAM, who called for the de-politicisation of taxes, suggested a licensing regime for some informal sector workers such as building contractors to ensure that they filed their tax returns, adding that some form of intentionality and simplicity should be attached to taxation processes.
The Executive Director, GII, Mrs Linda Ofori-Kwafo, for her partcalled on all stakeholders to strengthen their roles to ensure an effective and efficient tax system.
BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR