President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed all Ministers of state, government appointees and public officials to file their tax returns before the deadline of April 30, 2018, to set as a good example to the public. Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia made the announcement when he launched the Tax Awareness and Good Governance Week in Accra on Friday.The week-long programme is on the theme ‘‘Filing Your Tax Returns, Your Civic Responsibility’’, with a number of activities lined up, including public sensitisation programmes, quiz competition, symposium, among others, to whip up public interest to pay their income taxes.
Vice President Bawumia also tasked the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to come out with a mobile application, which would enable the tax paying public to file their tax returns on their mobile phones by April next year.
The event attracted high profile personalities, including ministers of state, development partners and the Diplomatic Community. It is a follow up of the national tax campaign launched by the GRA last year dubbed: ‘‘Our Taxes, Our Future’’.
It is an initiative of the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the GRA to encourage filing of annual tax returns and ultimately increase the level of voluntary compliance among the tax paying public. Vice President Bawumia used the occasion to file his tax returns, which is the assessment of taxes paid from January 01-December 31, 2017, to encourage
Ghanaians to do same. Tax returns is the statutory forms a taxpayer is supposed to complete on his or her income earned in a year of assessment and taxes to be paid within the year of assessment.
The Income Tax Act of 2015 and the Revenue Administration Act of 2016 required eligible persons to file their tax returns to the Commissioner-General of the GRA not later than the four months of each year of assessment or not later than April 30, every year. The Vice President said the rolling out of the programme demonstrated the country’s resolve to fulfilling the vision of the President in moving ‘‘Ghana Beyond Aid’’ agenda.
He said to move the nation beyond aid, there was the need to strive to be self-financing to ensure sustainable development. ‘‘All over the world taxation is the main tool countries relied on to mobilise revenues to develop their economies and to provide services to their people.
‘‘Whatever the developed countries sent to us as aid is as a result of their own ability to mobilise domestic resources. ‘‘What we take for granted as aid resources is as a result of their capacity to raise taxes, especially income taxes. As we embark on this journey of Ghana
Beyond Aid, it is imperative to take rigorous and decisive steps to raise enough revenues,’’ he stated.
Vice President Bawumia cited the economies of countries like Canada, Australia and Argentina, which about a century ago depended on taxes to propel their economic development, adding that, most countries in the Sub-Sahara Africa also largely depended on import taxes and excise duties for various infrastructural development. In that regard, he said, it was time all well-meaning Ghanaians joined forces and aligned their thinking to the paradigm of raising domestic tax revenue. ‘‘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,’’ he pointed out.
Dr Bawumia told the gathering that, over the years the tax collected had not been sufficient to meet the demands of the people, including providing basic services such as education, healthcare, potable water, sanitation and maintenance of law and order.
It was in this vein that all law-abiding citizens were supposed to honour their tax obligations so as to meet the demands and financial gaps for rapid and sustainable development, he stated. The Vice President drew the attention of Ghanaians to increasing donor fatigue, noting that, Ghana could not continue relying on concessional loans and charity for her infrastructural development, hence the need to take the bull by the horn and mobilise domestic revenue to meet her development aspirations.
He said the government had declared tax amnesty to encourage taxpayers to register, file tax returns and make outstanding payments arrears without imposing of interests and penalties or prosecutions. According to statistics by the Ghana Statistical Service, out of the six million employees in the country, only 1.5 million had registered with the GRA and paid their taxes implying that a large segment of the productive population, especially in the informal sector do not pay tax.
Ghana ranked below Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Kenya, Cape Verde and Swaziland in terms of the contribution of the payroll tax. In the 2015/2016 fiscal year, pay-in contributed about 15 per cent of the domestic revenue, self-employment 1.1 per cent and corporate tax 19 per cent, which constituted combined contribution of about 35 per cent. This is significantly below that of Singapore 50 per cent, South Africa 54 percent, Canada 38, and Denmark 60 per cent.
All eligible persons could visit the GRA offices across the country to file their tax returns.