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Exchange of information critical to addressing tax issues – GRA

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Ghana-Revenue-AuthorityTax authorities and African governments have been urged to adopt effective information exchange systems based on proper implementation of international standards of transparency.

This is necessary because exchange of information among member countries ensures that corporate bodies and individual taxpayers would have no safe haven to hide their income and assets but pay the right amount of taxes.

Mr George Blankson, the Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, said this at the opening of a three-day first African Tax Administrators Forum (ATAF) consultative meeting of African Competent Authorities in Accra.

The meeting would enable delegates to understand the role of the Office of the Competent Authority to the revenue administration and the benefits of ATAF members in utilising the exchange of information programme.

Mr Blankson said effective information exchange required an established legal basis for exchanging tax information with other jurisdictions as well as clear and efficient internal processes.

He said the exchange of information for tax purposes had become a key part of risk management of revenue collection and administration.

“Even though globalisation generates greater opportunities for the increase of wealth it also results in greater risk to domestic revenue mobilisation through tax evasion, aggressive tax planning and tax avoidance,” he said.

He said delegates were expected to put in place the necessary policies, legislation and information systems to engage in effective exchange of information as well as safeguard the confidentiality of information provided under exchange of information.

Mrs Elizabeth Storbeck, the Programme Co-ordinator of ATAF Exchange of Information Programme, said African countries faced various challenges in respect of the effectiveness of their tax systems.

She said the overall revenue yields and voluntary compliance of African countries were low and the taxation of international transactions in terms of transfer pricing had become difficult.

Mrs Storbeck urged tax authorities in Africa to develop sound policies that would promote efficient and effective tax administration to improve the living standards of the citizenry.

ATAF was launched on November 18, 2009 by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda at a conference attended by heads and senior officials of 31 African tax administrations, nine development partners and 18 development partner organisations.

Source: GNA

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