Emmanuel Gamson, GNA
Tamale, Nov. 6, GNA – Mr Vitus Adaboo Azeem, Chairman of the Tax Justice Coalition (TJC) - Ghana, has expressed worry at the incessant and blatant refusal of tax payers to redeem their tax obligations.
Mr Azeem lamented that even though there were friendly tax regimes to encourage tax compliance, tax payers were not willing to honour their obligations, and said it required stronger enforcement of the tax laws to reduce the problem.
“We need to develop a differing climate in which companies are under pressure not solely to maximise profits for shareholders, but also to make an appropriate level of contribution to the societies in which they operate”, he added.
He was speaking at a public forum on tax compliance and responsibility in Ghana, in Tamale, organised by the TJC as part of its Ghana Tax Dialogue Project, with funding support from Oxfam Ghana.
The Northern Region Office of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), whose officials took turns to address the forum reiterated the call on members of the public to honour their tax obligations and other tax responsibilities, and insisted that taxes were the main source of government income for providing projects, and therefore payment of taxes should not be negated.
The officials said taxes were used to protect indigenous industries and controlled certain aspects of the country’s economy including; balance of payment, employment and productivity amongst others, and encouraged members of the public to avoid tax evasion.
Mr Abu Nurideen, Principal Revenue Officer at the Northern Region Office of the GRA, who spoke on “the role of taxation in national economy”, added that it was appropriate that the citizenry honoured their tax obligations, and indicated that tax revenues were used to pay for the cost of services by the state.
Mr Nurideen noted that “taxes were used to restrain certain types of consumption”, citing alcoholic beverages and tobacco as examples, and said Ghana’s system of taxation ought to be convenient for the government to administer and simple for the people to pay.
He said corporate organisations and individual entities operating in the country were obliged to declare their right tax liability at the end of each tax period, and file tax returns and effect payment of tax due them by the due dates.
Dr Osman Tahidu Damba, a Lecturer at the Faculty of Agribusiness and Communication Sciences at the Nyankpala Campus of the University for Development Studies (UDS), called for a strict enforcement of tax laws to improve on tax compliance, saying tax administrators should impose effective instant penalties on tax evaders.
He added that “one measure to encourage compliance is to promote voluntary compliance through increased taxpayer education and make it easier for tax payers to submit their returns and payments”.
The forum was attended by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Corporate Bodies and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) drawn from the Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Savanah, and the North East regions.
It was held on the theme; “Addressing Policy Challenges and Regulatory Loopholes to Improve Tax Compliance in Ghana”, and aimed at educating participants on the relevance of tax compliance and responsibility of citizens towards national development.