Participants at a forum on Tax Compliance and Responsibility have stressed the need for the Government to annually review Tax Exemption Clauses in the Tax Laws to know which of them to abolish or continue with for the benefit of the state.
They argued that leadership, particularly the President and the Vice President, must be made to pay taxes as well as a ceiling on the number of ministers and facilities that such ministers should use to save the country of the numerous expending, which could have been channeled into development.
Other issues raised included the need to widen the tax net to properly cover the informal sector, comprehensive tax education in the school curricula and the need to avoid the over reliance on few small and medium scale enterprises and formal workers.
Dr Alexander Ampaabeng, a Fiscal Policy Analyst with OXFAM, at the Ghana Tax Dialogue Public Forum, organised by the Tax Justice Coalition, said the Ghana Beyond Aid was not far from reach if serious lapses within the tax regimes were corrected in the area of under or over-invoicing and illicit trade.
He said eliminating inequality and poverty, among other things, was possible through prudent tax management systems, adding; “We have enough revenue in the country to fund the country’s development”.
Ghana annually loses more than GH¢4.1 billion to tax evasions and other corrupt practices, which continue to hamper the nation’s quest to be independent economically.
Dr Ampaabeng said: “The biggest independence we need as a country is financial independence, which will grant us real freedom.”
He said government’s assurance on the judicious use of the public purse was critical in engendering trust among Ghanaians to be tax complaint.
It is believed that compliance could be easier among the business community if citizens began seeing results in the form of building schools, proper road networks, hospitals and providing for the general wellbeing of the citizenry.
Mr Waxy Bakukia Nukaila, a Resource Person, who presented a paper on Concept of Taxation, Duties of the tax payers at ensuring tax compliance, and Responsibility and measures required to plug policy and regulatory loopholes, called on citizens to oblige to tax compliance.
He said it was worrying that critical sectors such as health and Sanitation were always funded by development partners, which called for the reawakening of the citizenry to own and oblige to tax compliance.
Mr Nukaila said people must speak against wrongs in the development space adding: “Just forget about the labelling and concentrate on whether that action will benefit an individual or the whole society”.
He said building confidence in the Tax Administration would help in addressing imbalances in the cash flows and its effects on the fiscal policies of the state.
Mr Henry Kwarteng-Amanianpong, a Tax Expert, urged people to ensure proper disclosure for tax amnesty rather than evading taxes, which was a crime under the Tax laws.
He also urged the Government to turn attention to businesses operating in the cyber space and find innovative means of making the informal sector contribute effectively to the Tax Regime.
Mr Leonard Shang Quartey, the Coordinator of the Tax Justice Coalition, said to avoid revenue losses, tax compliance and voluntary compliance would help to uplift human lives, ensure holistic development and allow citizens to fully participate in the democratic dispensation.
The forum was, therefore, to bring stakeholders together to deliberate on issues affecting the tax systems and in the development of Policy briefs for government’s attention.