Ghana’s efforts to increase revenue generation with which to carry out its development mandate received a shot in the arm as Vice President Mahamud Bawumia led a number of high ranking state officials to file their tax returns here on Friday.
Opening the Tax and Good Governance Week aimed at instilling the culture of payment of tax in Ghanaians, Bawumia urged citizens to match their demand for the provision of public goods with the filing of their tax returns.
“All over the world, taxation is the main tool countries rely on to mobilize revenue to develop their economies and provide services to their people. Perhaps least talked about and also less understood by many of us is that whatever the advanced countries send to us as aid is the result of their own ability to mobilize domestic resources,” the Vice president reiterated.
He added: “What we take for granted as aid resources is the result of their capacity to raise taxes, especially income tax. As we embark on this journey of Ghana beyond Aid, it is imperative for us to take rigorous and decisive steps to raise enough income tax.”
Bawumia was accompanied by Minister for Finance, Kenneth Ofori-Atta, Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, Minister for Energy, Boakye Agyarko, Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Kofi Adda, Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Naa Elisabeth Afoley to file their tax returns for year ending December 31, 2017, as a clear example for citizens to meet their tax obligations,
The filing of tax returns and paying our fair share of taxes is much of our constitutional obligation as it is a necessary requirement to build a good society for ourselves. Let me reiterate that filing of tax returns, in addition to being the civic responsibility of every Ghanaian, is also a requirement by law, added the vice president.
The Income Tax Act 2015 (Act 896) and the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) makes it obligatory for every eligible person in Ghana to file an income tax return with the Commissioner-General of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) not later than four months after the end of each yea.
To make the process more flexible Bawumia urged the GRA to create an electronic platform in the form of a mobile phone application through which citizens can easily file their tax returns without necessarily coming to the GRA offices.
Out of a total of six million potential individual tax payers only about 1.5 million are registered with the GRA, while the country of about 27 million population grapples with low revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio pegged at below 17 percent in 2017.
Due to low tax revenue also government of Ghana, a Lower Middle Income Country (MIC) usually runs high budget deficits which are financed through borrowing from both domestic and international financial markets putting the country’s total Debt to GDP ratio at almost 70 percent as of December.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta announced a tax amnesty to enable citizens start on a fresh note. An alternative tax dispute settlement scheme would also be introduced to facilitate speedy resolution of taxpayer grievances.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has positioned us in a path of self-reliance; a path which requires of us to have a renewed mind in the way we have done things to free our inner productive energies; Government is bent on creating prosperity and equal opportunity for all its citizens,” Ofori-Atta indicated.
He however added that this great future could only materialize when we all contribute their fair share to the tax basket.. Enditem