Senior members of the government and the public, including the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, will next Wednesday personally file their tax returns at the office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
IRS officials say the filing of tax returns in the full glare of the public by these officials would encourage the public to also voluntarily file their tax returns regularly as required by the tax law.
The country's tax law requires every tax payer to file yearly returns of their total income by the end of the first quarter of every year.
Other members of the public who will take part in the voluntary exercise are the Chief Justice, the Speaker of Parliament and leaders of the House, ministers of state and their deputies, chief directors and chief executives of companies.
While those in Accra will file at the IRS, Kinbu Office, those in the regions will do so at the regional and district and offices of the service.
A Principal Inspector of Taxes, Mr Kwesi Bobie-Ansah, explained in an interview in Accra yesterday that the exercise, the first of its kind, was part of the Revenue Week, which starts from Monday, April 25 and ends on Sunday, May 1, this year. It is on the theme “Promoting Tax Consciousness for Accelerated Development”.
Series of activities have been scheduled for the week-long celebration to create general awareness on tax payment in the country, particularly to encourage voluntary tax compliance. The activities include workshops on filing of returns, seminars on the rights and obligations under the tax law and market tax education in selected markets across the country.
Mr Bobie-Ansah said tax returns helped the IRS to determine the true income of tax-payer to some reliefs, as well as qualified him for a tax clearance certificate.
“Without these returns, one cannot claim tax reliefs such as children's education relief, marriage and old age reliefs that are meant to lessen the tax burden on taxpayers,” he stated.
For the self-employed, Mr Bobie-Ansah said they could also claim capital allowance on business assets which allowed the taxpayer to recoup some maintenance expenditure on their assets.
“Similarly, overpaid taxes could be redeemed if tax returns were regularly filed, while underpaid taxes would be topped up,” he explained.
Mr Bobie-Ansah expressed the hope that the exercise, which would be carried out regularly, would ultimately encourage the public to cultivate the habit instead of sitting down till the needed tax clearance certificates for importance assignments.
The IRS has since last year introduced a number of measures to widen the tax net. These introduction of the Vehicle Income Tax last year and the Tax Stamp for business in the informal sector, which was launched this year.