The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is seeking the support of religious leaders in the country to whip up tax compliance among the citizenry to boost domestic revenue mobilisation.
It said the religious leaders had a large following and strong influence to educate the public on the need to honour their tax obligations, to enable the government undertake development projects.
The GRA Commissioner-General, Reverend Dr Ammisshadai Owusu-Amoah, made a case for the partnership at a GIZ Validation Workshop with the National Steering Committee on the Inter-Faith Platform on Accountability held in Accra on Wednesday.
“Our esteemed religious leaders, we all know, are very influential in our part of the world and as a Revenue Authority, it is prudent we take steps to partner with you to support our tax education efforts.
“With your several platforms with huge followers, you are better positioned to serve as agents of change to influence citizen’s attitude to paying taxes and holding government institutions accountable,” he said.
The workshop is part of the German Corporation’s (GIZ) Governance for Inclusive Development project (GovID) which, among other things, aims to promote accountable governance through active engagement with religious actors on national and local level taxes.
Rev Dr. Owusu-Amoah said building a sustainable relationship with religious groups was key to ensuring a well-informed society that appreciated the imposition of taxes to support development projects as well as empower citizens to also hold the government accountable at all times.
Referencing I Pet. 2:13-17, he said, the scripture made it clear that taxation was connected to obedience to God and that relationship between the Christian, government and taxes was addressed by Paul in his letter to the Roman church in which he addressed the general principle and responsibility of Christians to contribute to support good governance.
“As a nation, we must therefore approach the subject of taxation as a religious obligation. Just as we are commanded in scripture to pay taxes and hold the government accountable for the taxes, GRA is also mandated to administer and collect domestic taxes to fund budget expenditure”, he said.
Rev Dr. Owusu-Amoah, said citizens were obliged play their part in national development by honouring our tax obligations, expressing worry that only about 20 per cent of eligible taxpayers pay Income Tax.
The Programme Manager for GovID project at GIZ Ghana, Raphael Frerking, said last year, organisation conducted a baseline study on religious and traditional leaders which showed that with the trust many citizens place in them they could play a crucial role for increased tax compliance in emphasizing the linkages between tax payments, accountability, and successful governance.
He stated GIZ’s commitment to the project given that enhanced dialogue between state actors and religious communities could help the country achieve its developmental goals.
In a presentation on engagement with religious leaders, a consultant, Yaw Yeboah, said the religious leaders were willing to support the government to enhance tax compliance but they did not trust government institutions on the usage of taxes.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR