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Why President Mills Can Not Uproot Tax Fraud?

Sat, 19 Feb 2011 Source: Quaye, Stephen A.

By: Stephen A. Quaye, Toronto-Canada.

When President John Evans Atta Mills, paid a surprise visit to some state departments and agencies especially the Internal Revenue Service [IRS] last year, he expressed concern about tax fraud in the system and the need for the officers to work hard to correct that.

My concern was not the expression of the president’s concern about tax fraud and the calling on the officers to close their ranks and work to perfection to see that those fraudulent acts were uprooted.

Rather my concern was about the failure by the pressmen who followed him to cover the visit to ask the president a crucial question as whether he has been honoring his tax obligations and if that show as example for all to learn how to be a patriotic citizen.

The article which was titled, ”HOW TAX PAYING IS THE TAX PROFESSOR?” was wildly published in both electronic and press media in Ghana where many commentators condemned it with others attacking my personality for having put up such a piece.

But after one solid year, since he visited the institution, what are we seeing and hearing about tax collection at our national borders and port of entries? Forget about the “little little chop na chop” money you pay at the airport and borders.

Look at the huge sums of money suppose to be tax money collected by tax officials to be deposited into the state coffers for the total development of the country being thrown into buckets, baskets and what have you sitting under tables as was shown in Anas Aremeyaw Anas “Enemies of the Nation” footage.

In one of the commentaries posted to the said article on Ghana Web, a commentator rained insults on me for such article as he thought it was NPP sponsored propaganda to disgrace the president.

He challenged me to go and check from the constitution the provision that exempt the president from paying tax in the country. Oh yeah after having spoken to certain politicians and constitutional lawyers later, I realized that the president is exempted by constitution to pay tax.

That was fine. He is exempted from paying tax, but as a chief executive of the country, tax professor who knows how immense tax contributions can build a nation and having realized so many tax fraud in the system and wants to uproot the corruption in tax circles how can he do it?

You could see how angry he was sounding from his voice when he was addressing CEPS officials at Tema harbor during a follow up to the place after Anas footage has been aired.

Why was he angry? It has come out that some people were using his name on documents to clear their goods at the harbour free of charge without paying taxes. Meanwhile the president has never shipped a car not even a bicycle to be cleared from Abrokyere. But his name is being used in tax free shipping business which is serious.

Here comes the how the loophole was created for those tax fraudsters to also manipulate and that is the tax exemption the president enjoys. Suppose the president has been paying tax could anybody master courage to clear goods freely without paying tax in his name?

Last year the white house which serve as the seat of government of the United States of America disclosed that president Barak Obama, paid almost two million dollars in taxes as accordingly the first couple made 5.5 million dollars income from sales of books and paid nearly 1.8million dollars in federal tax. He did not enjoy tax exemption for some one to attempt to use his name to clear goods without paying taxes.

With this the president must be told in plain words that he can not uproot tax fraud in the system ones the constitution exempt him the chief executive from paying tax.

It is not striking to anybody to pay tax or stop collecting taxes and pocket them because what people are now saying is,”na onokoraa no otua tax anaa” to wit does the president pay tax at all?

Anyway, I encourage him to fight the good fight to uproot tax fraud but he should also consider amending the constitutional provision that exempts him from paying tax then he can take the fight to the challengers. Until then I doubt whether the president can uproot tax fraud in the country.

End.

Columnist: Quaye, Stephen A.