Ghana: Tax tussle starts between collectors and payers

In a quest to widen the tax bracket as a way of raking in more revenues for infrastructure development, several Ghanaians have expressed mixed reactions over a number of these new policies in the country.

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By January next year, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has announced it will begin rolling out a new policy which will see Ghanaian tax evaders denied access to passports, driver’s licenses and visas.

The introduction of the new policy follows the implementation of the revised tax law – 2015 tax Act.

Ghanaians are therefore advised to get a tax-payer identification number (TIN) so as to be able to renew or acquire new passports, drivers’ licenses or even secure visas.

The announcement of this new tax policy has angered many citizens. Some taxpayers have described the move as a misplaced one.

Sammy Papa, a trader at Accra said in an interview that, ‘’actually I am not aware of it, if there is anything they want to put in place or implement by next year, there should have been publicity about it so people will know what’s happening, otherwise as some of us are not aware we might not be able to do anything next year.’’

Ismail Ahmed, a civil servant at the ministries also said to the paper when interviewed, ‘’honestly I’m not aware of anything and I honestly don’t agree to that, I don’t agree to that at all.’’

But, rather encouraging, a Kumasi based trader, Yaw Barimah admitted having knowledge of the new tax policy, he said, ‘’yes I am aware, the GRA tax commissioners came to Kumasi to educate us about it, so I have my Tax Identification Number now.’’
Since time in memorial, Governments have been battling to deal with tax evasion as well as pull in the informal sector into Ghana’s tax net but has been unsuccessful.

It is believed that about 80% of businesses and people in the informal sector of the economy are not paying taxes due to lack of a historical database to track them.

There have been calls for government to enforce the right laws and put in place structures to get workers in the informal sector to pay the appropriate taxes.

Meanwhile, the players of industries and commerce are on the neck of government to relief them of tax burdens.

According to the Industrial and Commercial Work­ers Union (ICU) and the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the multiplicity of taxes contin­ues to negatively affect the quality of lives of workers and impact business opera­tions.

“The myriad of taxes that the Ghanaian worker is paying without the commen­surate benefit is suffocating us; in fact, there is too much pressure on workers,” General Secretary of the ICU, Solomon Kotei have said.

He argued that, “even overtime is taxed; everything you buy on the market has got the VAT on it and we are paying the National Insur­ance Levy on almost every item on the market; when your money goes to the bank there are SMS charges which are deducted, all of which make life very unbearable for the Ghanaian worker.”

Mr. Kotei warned that the Union would continue to mount pressure on govern­ment and Parliament to with­draw some of the taxes while reducing others drastically.

-Adnan Adams Mohammed

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