The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) have begun efforts to educate the informal sector on the importance of paying taxes to the state, and through that attract them into the nation’s tax net.
The two bodies have launched a collaboration that will require both parties to implement measures which make the payment of taxes flexible. The collaboration is also aimed at, among others, carrying out sustained nationwide tax education programmes to ensure voluntary compliance among members of GUTA.
Speaking at the collaboration’s launching, Ag. Commissioner-Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD), Edward Gyambrah, said the current status quo wherein the informal sector constitutes about 80 percent of the country’s economic set-up but contributes very little to domestic revenue mobilisation needs to be changed.
“Available statistics indicate that the number of persons in the informal sector who are in the tax net is low. This situation is unfortunate, and I believe the time has come for a change in attitude. As a country, our vision to wean ourselves from donor funding will be an illusion if those who must contribute their quota in the form of taxes refuse to do so.
“Let me therefore use this opportunity to urge all members of GUTA, especially the national executives, to see it as a civic duty to encourage their members outside the tax net to get on board the ship; so that, together, we can all sail on successfully,” Mr. Gyambrah said.
To explain better, Mr. Gyambrah added: “Permit me to draw this analogy; let us visualise a big pot in the middle of a village which is to be filled with water by all members of the community so that everyone can benefit from it.
“If only a few people pour in the water, then the supply of water from the pot will be only adequate for a few; however, when everyone fetches water according to their strength there will be enough water for everyone. In that same vein, if we all contribute our fair share of taxes, there will be enough in the government’s kitty for the provision of adequate developmental projects for the citizenry’s benefit.”
He noted that as GRA seeks to continuously improve its services, it has embarked on what it calls a transformational agenda. The Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD), in particular, has commenced the first phase of a nationwide restructuring exercise in Accra and Kumasi, with the aim of creating offices not on the basis of turnovers as it was previously, but rather that of jurisdiction.
The GRA says it has reviewed the structure of its offices to make it more convenient to file returns and pay taxes. The Domestic Tax Offices are now known as Area Support Offices, and will perform mainly administrative, centralised audit and enforcement functions. And Taxpayer Service Centres (TSCs) will carry out other functions such as registration, receiving of returns, complaints, enquiries and payments, compliance, debt management and tax education. This means one can walk into any Taxpayer Service Centre to fulfil all tax obligations.
The President of GUTA, Joseph Obeng, said the association will go to all lengths to ensure the initiative succeeds. According to him, the success of this move will give traders better bargaining power, and their contribution to taxes will make them demand policies to promote their businesses.