Commissioner of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Emmanuel Kofi Nti, has bemoaned the attitude of income earners, especially operators in the informal sector, in the payment of taxes in the country.
This attitude, he said, has prompted the GRA to introduce recent innovations to help in tax compliance.
The Authority, he said, has deployed various strategies to enable taxpayers in the informal sector pay their taxes via mobile money and the Electronic Point of Sales Device to help capture VAT transactions on a real time basis.
He indicated that the authority has simplified the tax processes and procedures, intensified education and improved service delivery to ensure more people comply with the tax laws.
Mr. Kofi Nti disclosed these at a two-day training workshop in Koforidua organized by the Private Newspapers Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG) collaboration with the GRA to build the capacity of journalists in the area of taxation and revenue mobilization.
46 participants from various media organizations in the country were taken through various topics including significance of (Taxpayer Identification Number ) TIN, the impact of tax waivers on Ghana’s economy, the emerging trends in tax administration, penalties for Tax Evasion and the consequences for nation-building.
According to him, over the past two years, the GRA has implemented a number of measures including the full enforcement of the TIN as a requirement for transacting business with some public institutions in a bid to ensure the flow of enough revenue into the notional coffers.
The measures, he said, include the affixing of excise tax stamp excisable products; the paperless clearance at the ports and the Cargo tracking note (CTN).
He said, “GRA has recently deployed the integrated Tax Application and Preparation System (TAPS), online filling system to simplify the filing of rectums.
“Other interventions in the pipeline are the development of an e-payment platform that will enable taxpayers in the informal sector to pay their taxes via mobile money and the Electronic Point of Sales Device to help capture VAT transactions on a real time basis.”
Mr. Kofi Nti disclosed that in April this year, the GRA launched its prosecution policy to send clear signal that GRA is focused and poised to prosecute tax defaulters.
“It was also meant to send message that GRA does not only bark but can also bite hard. So income earners and recalcitrant taxpayers should take a cue from this and amend their ways.”
Eastern Regional Minister, Mr. Eric Kwakye Darfour, who opened the workshop, stated that one sector in Ghana that has great potential for necessary domestic revenues mobilization and to reduce huge budget deficit is the informal sector
“The effective and efficient imposition of income tax on the informal sector holds the great prospect of closing the yawning gap in the domestic revenue generation.
According to him factors that make the informal sector hard-to-tax in Ghana include cash transactions, poor record keeping, high illiteracy rate, little or no barriers to entry, lack of laid-down procedures, ignorance of tax laws and the peripatetic nature of the informal sector in Ghana.
The informal sector consists of varied activities which involves agriculture, fishing and fish processing, agro-based processing market trading and according to Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation, 80% of Ghanaians workforce is employed in this sector.
The President of PRINPAG, Mr. Edwin Arthur, commended the GRA for funding the training workshop.
He stressed that a country whose residents engage in tax evasion and avoidance to escape their tax obligations, risks having its development negatively affected by this trend.
Building the capacity of journalists in the area of taxation and revenue mobilization, he said, would therefore effectively support the tax authorities to bring more people into the tax net and help educate the people to voluntarily honour their tax obligations.