Property owners to prove source of wealth – Finance Minister

Beginning next year, owners of expensive mansions in prime neighbourhoods in Accra and other regional capitals – whose properties do not reflect in their tax filing – will be required to prove how they acquired such properties.

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, speaking at the opening of a 2019 post-budget workshop for Members of Parliament in Koforidua, said this is one of the surest ways of improving the revenue envelope so as to undertake various projects captured in the 2019 budget statement.

“What we are realising is that though you and I may own a building at East Legon, Cantonments [and other prime areas], it however does not reflect in your tax filing. So, we are now going to zoom-in on such properties so you can prove to us how you were able to buy that property/ies,” he said.

Resource envelope entails the total revenues available from both public and non-public sources, which constitute generated revenue, foreign loans, divestiture proceeds, and domestic financing.

Mr. Ofori-Atta said he remains excited about the future and appealed for the citizenry to rally behind government in developing the economy.

“Next year is going to be a serious working year with regard to making sure that these leakages are out, and rolling-out the infrastructure and industralisation drive,” Mr. Ofori-Atta said.

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In the 2019 Budget statement, government plans to spend GH₵73.440.8m, representing 21.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The estimated expenditure for the year represents a growth of 27 percent above the projected outturn for 2018.

Government is aiming to narrow its budget deficit to 4.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2019, and forecasts an overall GDP growth of 7.6 percent. Non-oil growth is projected at 6.2 percent.

Additionally, an expected inflation rate of 8 percent by end of next year has been targeted – the same as the 2018 target.

VAT Attack and Tax Courts

“We also are going to negotiate with the Chief Justice for a tax court.

The Finance Minister also told Members of Parliament that, for next year, government has lined up new measures to clamp down on tax evaders.

According to Mr.Ofori-Atta, two years has given government enough perspective to roll out these initiatives.

Among these initiatives are VAT Attack; establishments of a tax court; and deploying a section of the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) graduates for this exercise.

“For next year, we are going to have a much more dedicated attempt. What we are going to do is to itroduce a group called the VAT Attack, which is going to be set up,” he noted.

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On the tax courts, he explained that speed expected to be seen at places like EOCO is not being felt; and he reckons the tax court will be a simple avenue for government.

Monitoring borders with drones

“We are going to have a new border control team with drones to monitor smuggling; a special task force has already been trained for this.

“Next year we are going to need some sort of joint parliamentary help, so we begin a new work-ethic on trying to plug the leakages and changing our own perception of our responsibility to pay taxes,” he added.

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