The 2012 Chartered Institute of Taxation, Ghana (CITG) Annual Conference to create awareness on tax policies and compliance, opened in Accra on Wednesday with a call on policy makers to make tax laws attractive for effective compliance.
Professor Riel C.D. Franzsen, Director of the African Tax Institute, Department of Economics, University of Pretoria, South Africa, who made the call, said although no one liked taxes they were important tool for national development.
He said taxes were necessary both to finance desired public spending in a non-inflationary way and also to ensure that the burden of paying for such spending was fairly distributed.
‘’While necessary, taxes impose real costs on society and good tax policy sought to minimize those costs,” he added.
The three-day conference forms part of the CITG’s awareness drive in the field of taxation and also as a platform for interactions between tax administrators, taxpayers, the Institute, tax practitioners, students and the public.
Over 300 delegates from Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, La Cote d’ Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Niger are attending the conference under the theme: “Taxation and National Development: Challenges and Perspectives.”
Prof Franzsen said tax policies must translate into good laws which could be administrated in practice, adding that complexity of laws and regulations increased compliance cost and led to evasion.
That, he said, could be achieved through creating the appropriate environments such as political, policy, legal, institutional and administrative environment.
He said institutional structures needed to be strengthened to collate good data, proper processes, and efficient collection of due taxes and provision of taxpayer support services.
“We must also put in place appropriate penalty structures to reduce evasion as well as appropriate relief and enforcement mechanism and support to ensure compliance,” he said.
On taxpayers, the Professor said taxpayers’ morality, compliance behaviour, perceptions or voluntary compliance would depend on efficiency and efficacy of government services – whether revenue was spent appropriately in accountable manner among the citizenry and levels of trust in the administration of the policy.
Prof. Franzsen mentioned complexity of tax system, taxpayer’s trust/confidence, and perceptions on the fairness of the system, social setting and norms, effective administration and enforcement as factors impacting on compliance.
Mr Lee Ocran, Minister for Education, in a speech read for him, said the conference was a suitable platform where tax experts met to discuss issues and stressed the need to encourage such meetings to improve tax compliance in the sub region.
He urged CITG to institute schemes that would accelerate growth while increasing tax revenue.
The Minister announced that the Chartered Institute of Taxation Bill would soon be laid in Parliament and expressed the hope that when passed it would help improve compliance level in the country.
Mr Felix Ahima-Adonteng, President of CITG, said the fora would enable delegates to discuss, share ideas, learn new ways and add improved and innovative dimensions to doing old things, a process that should benefit the taxpayer, the tax collector and the tax adviser.
He, therefore, urged the public to cultivate the habit of paying their taxes to empower government to improve lives of the citizenry.