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17.02.2005 Regional News

Artisans in Ketu South demonstrate over new tax

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Aflao, Feb 17, GNA - More than 2,500 artisans and apprentices from the Ketu District of the Volta Region took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against the tax stamp introduced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in January.

The new tax is the latest innovation by the IRS to widen the tax net to take in much of the informal sector operators who were not paying income tax.

The protestors were made up of garage owners, tailors and dressmakers, hairdressers, electronic technicians, carpenters, fridge mechanics and storeowners.

Some of their placards read, "withdraw the new tax stamp it is not income related", " there is no universal or general tax regime the world over", " how can we the village artisans pay same tax like city artisans", "IRS get back to government and do your home work professionally".

The demonstration took place simultaneously at Denu, Agbozume, Aflao and Dzodze.

The demonstrators converged at Tokor, Denu where officials of the Ketu District Assembly received their petition. The petition said though it is acceptable that tax payment is a civil responsibility for national development, the tax stamp is at the high side.

It said unlike basic and property rates, income tax is income related and therefore never fixed and that the fixing of the tax stamp was wrong as the individual's income is bound to fluctuate. " That is why any acceptable tax system is based on proper assessment of one's income over the year".

The petition said apart from the national tax obligations, they pay similar rates such as " business operation permits", ''workshop license", "property and basic rates" in addition to domestic responsibilities including school fees and utility bills.

It called for a second look at the new tax because it is in conflict with the private sector and small-scale industrial development. Mr Ernest Kuhlor, Chief Personnel Officer of the Assembly who received the petition, asked the artisans to hold the peace and wait while their grievances were addressed.

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