President’s signing of new tax bills right but …
On April 1, this year, the country’s legislature, commonly referred to as Parliament, approved three major tax bills targeted at increasing domestic revenue for the country.
The bills are the Excise Duty and Excise Tax Stamp (Amendment) Bill, 2022, the Income Tax (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2022, and the Growth and Sustainability Levy Bill, 2022.
The passage of the bills did not happen without opposition to them though.
For instance, the Minority in Parliament and the Ghana Traders Association of Ghana opposed them for various reasons such as the taxes coming in to worsen the already precarious situation of Ghanaians and also undermine the survival of businesses.
Even though the reasons for opposing the bills were good, they were passed obviously for their weightier purposes.
It is, for example, said that the new taxes are projected to complement the government’s
efforts to raise more than GH¢4 billion annually.
Besides, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, is on record as saying that the bills were essential to the country’s quest to secure the US$3 million assistance it is seeking from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The update about the bills is that President Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo has signed them into law and very soon the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will implement the collection of the taxes. (See our story on page ….).
We think and obviously so that in spite of all the negative perceptions about taxes and resistance to their payments, they cannot be ignored in the modern economy.
It is common knowledge that taxes form one of the various sources, internal and external, by which governments raise revenue to ensure their ability to live up to their responsibilities to their citizens.
Even though we are aware some taxes can be inimical to certain economic activities, they have been proven to be a good source of revenue accruing to governments.
What this means is that governments are denied some percentage of revenue when taxpayers shirk their responsibility.
It is good that under a democracy, everything is done according to the rule of rule and so the country’s legislature has legitimized the new bills, with the President assenting to them to make them law.
We know all taxes collected in the country are backed by law but there are usually issues with payment and collection.
Take the collection of property rate, for example.
This is an area where the assemblies can raise revenue from, yet they have refused to collect them, probably because they do not have a reliable database for effective collection.
The opposition raised against payment of taxes may also be attributed to inadequate tax education.
We think the time has come for the GRA to put together a programme to educate the citizenry in particular about the need to pay taxes and the sanctions for tax evasion.
Tax collectors too must be trained to be professional enough, including being courteous and persuasive, towards taxpayers.
Corruption in tax collection too must be checked.
Then when the tax revenue accrues, the public must be made aware of its use in meeting their needs, otherwise they would stick to their refusal or resistance to pay the taxes because they think the government collect them to fuel the opulent lifestyles of public officials.