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30.04.2008 Education

Wider tax net for private schools

By Daily Graphic
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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has outlined a list of incomes on which private schools in the country are expected to pay taxes as a statutory obligation.

It said apart from the normal school fees charged, profit on levies such as development levy, extra classes, bookshops, canteen, transportation, sale of uniform, evening classes, which was not charged directly under the regular school fees, were to be taxed.

Mr W.C. Sefah-Agyebeng, Assistant Commissioner in charge of training, who announced this at a day's workshop for private school proprietors in Accra, said fees charged during vacation classes, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) donations, external support for the school, gifts and grants were also not exempt from taxes.

His announcement generated a heated debate between the proprietors and the IRS officials with the proprietors arguing that they did not make profits on the list of items mentioned.

Mr Sefah-Agyebeng, however, allayed the fears of the proprietors, saying that "the items we have listed will not be taxed unless the school had made gains out of any of them".

He said the IRS had embarked on the public education exercise to stress the need for private schools and other companies to file their tax returns on an annual basis.

The workshop was on the theme: "Your tax returns: A fair way of assessing your income tax".

He said the IRS would be compelled to enforce the law if the proprietors refused to give full declaration of their income and expenditures at any specified period of the year.

The Assistant Commissioner said there were penalties, including fines and imprisonment, for those who refused to honour their tax obligations and urged the proprietors not to do things that would make them fall foul of the law.

Mr Sefah-Agyebeng said it was also an obligation on the part of the employer to file tax returns for each member of staff at the end of every year.

"After doing so, the employers are also expected to give a copy of what has been presented to the IRS to the employee to verify the correctness of the amounts indicated against his/her name," he said.

That, he said, was to allow the employee to satisfy himself/herself that what was deducted by the employer had been duly paid to the IRS.

He said it was also an offence on the part of any employer to under-declare or make false declarations to the IRS.

Mr Sefah-Agyebeng said those who were caught to be aiding and abetting would also not be spared.

The participants expressed gratitude to the IRS for the education and asked for regular education on tax returns and obligations.

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