A ‘National Tax Campaign’ dubbed ‘#OurTaxesOurFuture’ has been launched, with a call on the tax paying population to comply with all tax obligations.
The campaign is to ensure that citizens fulfil their civic duty by honestly declaring their taxes.
The national campaign, spearheaded by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), is being supported by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Information Services Department (ISD) to disseminate the message to all districts, churches, mosques, markets, on mobile vans, dawn announcements, community meetings, buses and trotros.
Expected to run for the next four weeks, the tax campaign will witness a series of activities geared toward encouraging citizens to honour their tax obligations for more developmental projects.
Currently, only 1.2 million people are said to be registered for tax purposes. Out of this number, about 1 million are in the formal sector, leaving only 200, 000 in the informal sector.
The contribution of the informal sector to total tax revenue remains below 5%. This is in spite of the fact that the economy is dominated by the informal sector, which has created a huge gap in the national kitty.
This is because individuals and entities within the tax paying population are left out of the tax bracket, resulting in government not making a lot of revenue for its social intervention programmes.
Speaking at the campaign’s launch in Accra, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta applauded the GRA’s decision to embark on a strategy to expand the tax net by creating more awareness on the benefits of paying tax, and by working to improve voluntary compliance so as to increase revenue for development.
“We have, let’s say, 10 million people who are economically active. We have 1.1 million people actually paying…and doing the payee thing. So, through that, we pick up maybe GH¢3billion at the end of the year. That means we have eight million people unaccounted for.
“So, imagine if we all render to Caesar what is Caesar’s? This whole issue of our capacity to support the necessary public good, which is education, health, security, would not be something to talk to donors about, but things that we can personally fund,” he stated
He added: “Despite the challenges with revenue mobilisation and inadequate revenue generated by the small taxpaying population, government has expressed its commitment to utilising its little resources in human capital development.
“Really, for us in government, we have to make choices, and we decided that the human capital of our society is one of the most important things; therefore, we programmed resources into, for instance, Free Senior High School. What does that mean? If we then do that, certainly other areas will be challenged – but we cannot compromise the future of our society with illiteracy. We just can’t.
“I am sure if I were to take a survey around here and ask how many people have filed taxes, a lot of us would be found wanting; but we do get on platforms and talk about what government is not doing and what Customs is not doing.”
Acting Commissioner-General of GRA, Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti, was confident that the successful implementation of the programme will result in greater tax compliance and increase awareness on the need to embark on this necessary civic education.
He was hopeful some of the slogans developed in line with the campaign will yield positive responses from Ghanaians. The slogans include ‘Taxpayers-Nation builders’; ‘I have paid my taxes; have you?’; ‘Every little tax helps’; and ‘Taxes help build great nations’.
Deputy Commissioner of the National Commission for Civic Education, Kathleen Addy, underscored the need for collaboration between the two institutions in the awareness creation campaign on tax compliance, and urged other state institutions to partner her outfit in civic education and awareness-creation activities.
“The NCCE, as a collaborating partner, has been engaged to carry out intensive education on tax compliance, utilising our capacity to fulfil this mandate.
“The GRA-NCCE partnership has come to stay, and as a constitutional body the NCCE will strive to ensure that citizens fulfil their civic duty by honestly declaring their taxes.”
By Ekow Essabra-Mensah l thebftonline l Ghana