I Put It To You, You’re Flouting Tax Laws

September 14, 2021 By 0 Comments

President Akufo-Addo addressing the lawyers

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has bemoaned the lack of tax compliance on the part of some lawyers, describing the development as very unfortunate, though factual.

According to the President, these tax defaulting lawyers appear to think their profession puts them above tax compliance.

His statement followed the recent exposé by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to the effect that some sixty thousand (60,000) professionals working in the country, including lawyers, accountants, doctors, engineers, surveyors and architects do not pay taxes.

He was, however, hopeful that people evading taxes would move swiftly to regularise their tax affairs before the GRA moved to crack the whip.

“The record of lawyers in paying taxes has been historically poor. It is unfortunate, but a most unpleasant fact, that members of the profession in our country have not been known to set a good example when it comes to paying taxes.

“They appear to think that being members of the learned profession put them above complying with every day civic duties, like paying taxes.

President Akufo-Addo in a group photograph with the lawyers

“It is embarrassing that lawyers are often at the top of the list of those who flout our tax laws and use their expertise to avoid paying taxes,” he stressed.

President Akufo-Addo, therefore, urged the outgoing President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Anthony Forson Jnr., to start by getting members of the bar to pay their taxes.

The luminary human rights lawyer and now President of Ghana, was speaking Monday, September 13, 2021 in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, at the 2021 Bar Conference of the GBA.

His address was largely centered on the theme of the conference, which was “Ensuring an Increase in Revenue Mobilisation through Taxation for the Purpose of Accelerated National Development.”

The President was glad that the GBA decided to enlist the strength of lawyers to help in the mobilisation of resources through taxation.

He added that, “we have work to do to convince the people of Ghana that, if we are to get the developments that we all crave, then paying taxes must become a regular and unquestioning feature of our lives.”

He had earlier indicated that the only thing Ghanaians have not made part and parcel of their lives, since the coming into force of the 4th Republican dispensation, is to make taxes regular, predictable parts of their lives.

He explained that, “our tax-to-GDP ratio of 14.3% compares unfavourably with our peers the world over. The average tax-to-GDP ratio in West Africa stands at 18%, and indeed, the recommended ratio for ECOWAS Member States is at least 20%. The average for OECD countries is 34%.”

Looking at the figures, the President understood why the American, German, French, Japanese, and British people, amongst others, could readily find the means to fund their own development, particularly their infrastructural development, whereas Ghana was constantly struggling to do the same.

Against that background, he said, “There is, therefore, an urgent need to enhance significantly our domestic revenue mobilization capability to realise our development potential, create opportunities for our vibrant and dynamic youth, and deliver improved livelihoods for our fellow citizens.”

Widening Tax Net

President Akufo-Addo indicated that, prior to his coming into office in 2017, only a small proportion of the population, i.e., some seven hundred and fifty thousand (750,000) people were registered by GRA with Tax Identification Numbers (TINs).

“As a result of the effective roll-out of the National Identification Card, spearheaded by one of our own, the ebullient Ken Attafuah, which has been integrated with GRA to form the TIN number, we now have a taxable population of some 15.5 million people in just four (4) years,” he added.

Government, the President indicated, has introduced other measures that make it easy for institutions and individual taxpayers to be compliant, including the Revenue Assurance & Compliance Enforcement (RACE), Ghana.gov, paperless port, the National ID (GhanaCard), Digital Property and Address System, and cashless system.

These policy interventions are running smoothly, and he urged members of the Bar to take advantage of these innovations to regularise their tax affairs, and advise their clients to do the same.

The Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) at the country’s ports has been introduced to facilitate trade and block revenue leakages, stating that, despite the initial opposition of vested interests, it is paying dividends.