The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has cautioned the public against the notion that they would not pay their taxes if the government of the day is not performing.
According to the GRA, the non-performance of the government of the day was not an excuse, but an attitude that would cost the state in terms of revenue generation.
The statement was made by Maxwell O. Boadi, Head of Prosecution Unit at the GRA, at a two-day media workshop, organised for court reporters by the Authority, in conjunction with the Judicial Training Institute, in Accra last week.
Answering questions asked by the participants, he said the citizens, in an attempt to shed their tax obligations to the state, often hide behind a certain development they had not received or seen from the government to justify the non-payment of their taxes.
He contended that the non-performance of a government cannot be an excuse for tax avoidance, explaining that while the citizens had an option to change a nonperforming government that failed to efficiently and effectively use revenues to their benefits the same could not be said about paying taxes.
Mr. Boadi stated emphatically that if the citizens were not happy with their government’s performance, they could change it, but they could not choose not to pay their taxes.
He said, despite the Authority moving towards voluntary tax compliance, it had, since 2021, been using its prosecution powers drawn from laws such as Executive Instrument five (E.I.5), Revenue Administration Act 2016 (Act 915), Income Tax Act 15 ( Act 896), and Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891).
The others are Value Added Tax Act 2013 (Act 870), Communication Service Act 2008 (Act 754), Excise Tax Stamp Act 2013 (Act 873), and Excise Duty Act, 2014 (Act 878).
The prosecution powers of the GRA may be initiated as civil or criminal actions to recover taxes due, as well as slapping penalties on defaulting entities. Mr. Boadi said some of the punishments prescribed under the law, included garnisheeing of the bank account, attaching the person’s property and others to defray the outstanding taxes owed.
He mentioned taxes collected by the GRA as corporate income tax (business, trade, profession and vocation), employment (salaries, allowances, benefits, overtime, gratuities and per diems), investment (rent, dividends, interest, royalties, natural resources payments and lottery), capital gains and gift tax.
He said taxes may even be slapped on persons indulging in illegal operations to derive revenue, but the criminal side of that business would be handled by the police and other institutions concerned.
The Head of Prosecution Unit added that the GRA could give amnesty to distressing companies, as well as tax reliefs on marital, the aged, disability, child education, dependency and mortgage.
Similarly, entities could appeal to a desk at the Ministry of Finance if they disagreed with the GRA on the amount of tax they owed, or after prosecution could proceed to the Court of Appeal on the matter.
The workshop was facilitated by justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu and Kweku Tawiah Akaah-Boafo respectively.
The various topics treated include the Legal System of Ghana, Jurisdiction of the Courts, Court Terminologies, Designation of the Judges, Hierarchy and Officers of the Courts, Parties, Processes and Procedures in Civil Matters and Criminal Case, and Court Etiquette and Protocols.
The others were Media Independence, Freedom, Responsibility, Privacy, Libel, Defamation, Contempt of Court and Effective Reporting on Tax Issues.