The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has urged citizens to expose people and businesses who evade or fail to pay their taxes.
According to him, the action of such tax evaders is tantamount to wrecking the nation as it denies the country much-needed revenue to undertake various developmental projects.
“We must let our discussion on Tax Identification Numbers [TIN] show that every Ghanaian who earns some income contributes to the pool to build the nation. Therefore, any Ghanaian who does not get a TIN and who does not pay his taxes is a nation-wrecker,” he said.
A 2016 report by the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), a civil society organization, revealed that Ghana loses nearly US$2.1billion dollars to tax evasion and incentives annually.
The study, which was conducted on behalf of the National Coordinating Council of the Public Services International (PSI), notes that Ghana lost about US$4.9billion between 1970 and 2008 as a result of the tax evasions by corporate groups, individuals, multinationals and other organisations operating in the country.
Speaking at a training programme by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for selected members of the Parliamentary Press Corps on taxation systems at Prampram, the Bekwai MP entreated citizens to pay taxes regularly.
“We should know as a people that taxes are the means by which we build a nation. Talk about unemployment, talk about resources to invest in areas to generate jobs and to build infrastructure. We are talking about resources to build the roads we want, and therefore it is the responsibility of every Ghanaian to pay his or her taxes – and point out those who are not paying and ensure that they also pay,” he said.
He also urged the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to widen the tax net to include all farmers.
Joseph Osei Owusu said it is unfair for cocoa farmers to be taxed while other crop and animal farmers are not taxed.
“We charge the cocoa farmer about 25 to 30 percent in tax for every bag of cocoa. Why should the plantain farmer or the yam farmer not pay theirs?” he said.
Mr. Osei Owusu also argued that ‘sometimes’ the other farmers are not in the know that their quota is needed to build the country.
“But the yam farmer does not know that his revenue is part of the resources we use to build the country,” he said.
The Ghana Revenue Authority has cautioned all Ghanaians to get the TIN, which authorities say is mandatory to engage in business transactions and access other essential services in Ghana.
As of April 1 this year, the public is expected to own a TIN in order to clear goods at the Ports, to obtain Passports, drivers’ licence among others.
On his part, the Technical Advisor to the Commissioner, Henry Yentumi, indicated that the GRA considers the media as a vital partner to help with education of the citizenry on the need to register for the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).
“The GRA considers media interactions very seriously, as we see you as true partners in the job of revenue mobilisation and in the development of our country,” he said.
The Dean for the Parliamentary Press Corps(PPC), Nana Agyeman Birikorang, also stated that the sensitisation workshop is important to the work of journalists in the sense that they thrive on accurate and reliable information, “which requires that they are trained by technical men who are more competent in their work so that we will not misinform the general public”.