In excess of one million economically-active business entities in the informal sector have been found to be outside of the tax net – not paying any tax on their earnings.
Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti, said these businesses had not registered with the authority.
“Some of them do not have a single record to confirm their existence and activities – making it difficult to trace and get them to file their tax returns.”
He described the situation as deeply troubling and said it could not be allowed to continue. Things needed to radically change to enable the nation to maximize revenue generation to drive socio-economic development.
The GRA, he said had taken steps to register and rope them into the tax net.
Mr. Nti was addressing a day’s workshop on voluntary tax compliance held by the GRA in Kumasi and in attendance were Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and the Ashanti Regional Business Owners Association (ABOA).
It is part of the National Tax Campaign – scaled-up effort to assist everybody to have better understanding of why they should honor their tax obligations.
The campaign is being spearheaded the GRA together with the National Commission for Civic Education and the Information Services Department (ISD).
The Commissioner-General indicated that it was possible for the nation to fund its infrastructure and socio-economic development “if we are willing to do the right thing as business entities”.
He vowed to ensure equity and fairness in the tax administration system and criticized what he said was the unfair practice where only few people had been left to carry the tax burden.
That, he added, was to blame for the inability “to meet our development aspirations” and said the campaign was meant to correct this by helping to change the people’s negative perception about the taxation system.
The Commissioner, Customs Division, Mr. Isaac Crentsil, reminded officers of the GRA to be professional in the discharge of their duties and to be incorruptible.
“It must not be lost on you that you are working in the interest of the nation and therefore should not engage in practices that can deny us the ability to meet our revenue generation target”, he advised.
Ms. Elizabeth Agyemang, Deputy Regional Minister, called for all to cooperate and support the GRA to rake in more revenue to fund the government’s development programmes.
Concerns raised by the participants ranged from high import duties and the takeover of businesses reserved for Ghanaians by some foreigners to the reluctance of some businesses to register their operations with the appropriate state institutions.