Those Who Are Tax Compliant Should Get Awards
The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has called on government to institute a reward scheme for individuals and companies who pay their taxes regularly to encourage others to do same.
The Centre was of the view that the names of individuals and companies who pay their taxes should be published in the media to stimulate other tax payers to voluntarily pay their taxes without being asked to do so, to help raise revenue for national development.
Mr Benjamin Boakye, the Executive Director of ACEP, made the call in Accra at a validation and stakeholders' engagement on addressing gaps to increase tax revenue in the country.
Mr Boakye said the country's fiscal data between 2008 and November 2017 shows that, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) had been unable to increase and sustain the momentum of tax revenue growth rate although, tax revenue generation increased year on year.
He stated that the GRA had procedural inefficiencies that hamper tax revenue mobilization in the short term, adding that, while late tax filing was behavioural on the part of taxpayers, the GRA contributed to the challenge, due to its inability to provide timely and adequate guidance to taxpayers.
Mr Boakye said the GRA failed to aggressively pursue filed but unpaid tax returns, which were not in dispute, as well as outstanding conceded tax returns that were in dispute, stating that, penalties and interests on late payment cannot be enforced against the tax payer.
He said the poor coordination and communication among the GRA's segmented office structures affected tax enforcement, coupled with poor monitoring and weak field audits, which leaves illicit financial flows undetected, especially in the extractive sector, while the large informal sector remains under-taxed.
The Executive Director said in Ghana, it was estimated that some $2.1 billion is lost annually through tax evasion by corporate entities, multinationals, individuals, and other organizations operating in the country.
Mr Boakye said tax evasion occurred in the country due to challenges relating to the procedures and processes of the GRA's operations such as ineffectively conducted audits, procedural inefficiencies, and weak enforcement of penalties.
Mr Gershon Adela, the Communication Officer, ACEP said their outfit unveiled a digital platform dubbed: 'Open Tax Ghana Platform,' to enhance revenue mobilization in the country.
He said the platform was launched in partnership between ACEP, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the United Kingdom Department for International Development.
The platform, which can be accessed via www.opentaxghana.com, provided opportunity for the public to share tax information, report on suspected tax evasions, among others.
Mr Adela said the platform sought to deepen the conversation around tax mobilization and the need for citizens to pay their taxes.
He disclosed that a lot of people were deliberately evading tax, and that the platform would serve as a check on duty bearers to ensure transparency and accountability in revenue collection.
Some of the participants called on the GRA to make good use of technology to widen the tax network to involve the informal sector.
The small-scale miners have called for a flat tax rate to enable compliance, adding that they were ready to pay for the development of the country.
By Kodjo Adams, GNA