Proper public sensitisation can increase tax compliance – GII

Mr. Benedict Doh, Ghana Integrity Initiative

To ensure high voluntary compliance with tax payment and address issues of trust among citizens, Benedict Doh of Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) has called for proper sensitisation of the public about projects and initiatives that have been funded by tax paid by the citizens.

Although a lot is being done by government through the use of taxes collected, Mr. Doh believes that having signposts informing the public about projects funded with tax revenue will help build the willingness of individuals to pay tax.

“All the taxes that people are paying, the simple question we keep hearing is ‘what are the taxes being used for?’ It is true that the taxes are used for the construction of our roads. It is true that the taxes are used in paying the salaries of public sector workers. It is true that the taxes are used in the development of health and education systems.

“All that is true. But the fact of the matter is that a majority of citizens are not aware of some of these things which have been funded with taxpayers’ money. This therefore means the relevant state institutions must take the necessary steps to get people to appreciate the fact that these projects are funded with their tax revenues. It’s as simple as that.

The majority of projects that are going on in the country are branded in the name of sources where the loans were contracted from. Equally, if government uses taxpayers’ money to develop some infrastructure, they should similarly state clearly that it is funded with taxpayers’ money and not just the government of Ghana,” he said.

Speaking to the B&FT, he said if this is done it will make accountability clearer to the taxpayer… and that can promote voluntary compliance. He stressed that when people see the utilisation of monies paid and can relate with how tax revenues are being managed, then they will be encouraged to pay more.

“If it is bringing improvement into their lives, if they see improvement in education; if they see improvement in transport system; if they can relate with improvement in our health systems, then people will be happy to contribute their fair share to national development,” he noted.

Though the finance ministry and Ghana Revenue Authority publish information about taxes generated and other information on their websites, Mr. Doh believes it is limited; therefore, getting the informal sector informed through the right channels will help.

To do this, he said, the respective duty-bearers – which are the Ghana Revenue Authority and Ministry of Finance – should intensify their public engagements and disseminate all relevant information through innovative approaches and in local languages through videos, community radio programmes and market broadcasts as the majority of people are in informal sectors.

Mr. Doh noted that one key thing that promotes voluntary tax compliance is tax education – stating that if people know clearly what their obligations are per the tax laws, then they will be in a position to pay.

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