Taxation Practitioners Must Show High Professional Conduct and Values – Gatsi

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Professor John Gartchie Gatsi
Professor John Gartchie Gatsi

The Dean of the School of Business, University of Cape Coast (UCC), Professor John Gartchie Gatsi has called on taxation practitioners to exhibit high professional conduct and moral values in their professional practice.

He said practitioners must imbibe into their practice, the code of conduct governing the profession and maintain commitment at all levels.

Professor Gatsi was delivering a lecture to the 2023 graduating class of the Chartered Institute of Taxation Ghana (CITG), on the topic: “Professional conduct and the role of members in protecting the image of the Chartered Institute of Taxation Ghana.

He said the purpose of professional code of conduct was to define behaviors and moral principles for practitioners to practice effectively with everyday consciousness of objectivity, honesty, integrity and commitment to confidentiality.

Professor Gatsi explained that per section 12 of the taxation Act 916, no individual or firm is allowed to practice as a taxation practitioner unless they were registered members of the institute.

He called on all members of the institute to jealousy protect the Act and ensure that only registered members were allowed to practice.

The UCC Business School dean advised that membership of the Institute placed trust in the tax practitioner by his/her clients, the Ghana Revenue Authority, the regulators and other stakeholders and this he noted must not be taken for granted.

“The responsibility for ethical and professional behaviour must be taken seriously by all practitioners within the tax profession irrespective of the years in practice – All of you must be committed to upholding and maintaining the reputation in order to sustain public trust – complying with ethical rules and professional conduct will not be painless – it may even cost you but this is the profession you have signed on to which demands daily consciousness,” he advised.

On professional misconduct, the Professor outlined several points which he said would guide practitioners in their line of work.

He said a person engages in professional misconduct if the person is not guided by or is not committed to the ethics of the tax profession, disclosing information acquired in the course of professional engagement to another person without the consent of the client, making paid advertisements in the media (touting), soliciting clients for professional work, gross negligent of professional duty, expressing professional opinion not based on sufficient information, failing to keep moneys of a client in a separate bank account or using clients’ money for purposes not agreed on, submitting false returns and statements to the Council of the Institute, allowing a person who is not a Chartered Tax Practitioner to practice in one’s name among others.

On the issue of conflict of interest as the requirement of law, the Professor said, at any given time, conflict of interest should be disclosed and such disclosures are to be recorded in a conflict-of-interest register.

He said while it is generally advisable to avoid inducement and gifts, it is appropriate for professional bodies and organizations to develop gift policies as some may want to place premium on the value, type and material involved and others may just want to discourage gifts in any form.

Prof. Gatsi said it is the duty of practitioners to pay dues and participate in the activities and programs of the Institute and that the practitioners and other membership categories will develop the profession by ensuring that they do not engage in a conduct, either professional or personal, which would bring the tax profession or the Institute into disrepute.

He said practitioners should not accept inducements or gifts or allow offers of hospitality, pleasure or those with vested interests to influence, or be perceived to influence, their professional decisions.

The professor further advised that practitioners must be conscious of the fact that “your behaviour outside your professional life may have an effect on how you are perceived as a professional.”

He encouraged the participants to promote the brand of the Institute through adherence to the professional and ethical code of conduct of the Institute, serve their clients diligently and with utmost efficient service, contribute to policy framing, regularly publish in the newsletter and or journal of the Institute, participate in the programs of the Institute, help the Institute to collaborate with academia, participate in national programs related to taxation, avoid dealing with clients on the basis of politics, ethnicity, religion and other forms of discrimination, embrace data literacy, report writing and data analytics skills, embrace the emerging issues of climate change, ESG and digital taxation, be open and demonstrate multi-cultural skills, be professionals who read because a lot was happening in the profession globally and endeavor to avoid
bringing the name of the Institute into public disrepute.

Prof. Gatsi explained that upon obtaining membership and registration, a person is bound by the rules of professional conduct and must therefore adhere to it’s demands.

He said, the relevance of a professional body is about to be discredited if professional ethics and conduct is not prioritized.

The Professor warned of chaos if these requirements are applied selectively to members.

He charged the graduating class and other members of the Institute to promote the profession through good customer care and excellent professional service.

Members were encouraged to develop the profession through publication of practitioners’ series and in academic journals.

Professor Gatsi further called on the Institute to promote a tax journal that follows proper journal management protocols to make it attractive nationally and globally, adding that the Institute should create platforms for members to promote the CITG brand through innovation.

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