Finance Minister Mr Ken Ofori-Atta said on Friday that Ghana-beyond-Aid would only happen if the country was able to generate enough revenue to meet its needs.
He said the vision required that all Ghanaians rally behind the government to achieve the needed revenues.
“This vision requires that we all rally behind Government to achieve the needed revenues. Every citizen is part of this vision and it is my hope that such events would lead to a paradigm shift for all of us to honour our Tax obligations which includes the filing of Tax returns,” he said.
Mr Ofori-Atta was speaking at the launch of the Tax and Good Governance Week, an initiative of the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Revenue Authority, geared towards encouraging filling of annual tax returns and increasing the level of voluntary compliance.
The week long programme on the theme: “Filing Your Tax Returns, Your Civic Responsibility,” complements the National Tax Campaign launched in 2017.
Currently, out of a potential six million individual taxpayers, only about one million five hundred thousand are registered with the Ghana Revenue Authority.
Of this number per the last survey conducted by the Statistical Service one million, three hundred and sixty-four thousand are employees, which implies that self-employed individuals contribute very little to income taxes.
“Sadly, out of this number only a few submit their tax returns. We potentially have a lot of eligible tax payers who need to honour their tax obligations,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
“This campaign is therefore a call to honour our civic duties and ensure that we position ourselves to get to our desired destination of Ghana beyond Aid,” he added.
The Minister said government would continue to improve tax compliance and also pursue policies to broaden the tax net and reduce the burden on the few compliant Tax payers.
Mr Ofori-Atta said while government in 2018 was continuing with its programme of fiscal consolidation and had set targets that would help to achieve these objectives.
However, he said continued fiscal consolidation would be achieved through improvement in domestic revenue mobilization and strict spending discipline
Mr Ofori-Atta said government while doing its best to make tax payment less burdensome would, however, not hesitate to enforce the tax laws and where necessary penalize and prosecute those who engaged in criminal evasion.
“As we continue to chart this course of improved compliance we need to safeguard and consolidate the gains that we have made over the past year. Government will therefore in the midyear review announce further measures to shore up revenues and keep up the momentum,” he said.
Mr Kofi Nti, the Commissioner-General Ghana Revenue Authority, said the Authority could not continue to always run after taxpayers using coercion to ensure compliance.
He said in line with best practices in the developed world, we expect taxpayers to voluntarily honour their tax obligations without any compulsion.
He said one of the key means of ensuring voluntary compliance was to have a well-informed taxpayer population.
Mr Nti said the setting aside of this one week as the Tax and Good Governance week therefore seeks, among others, to bring information to taxpayers, letting them understand their rights and responsibilities, the various tax policies and the need to honour all their obligations.
Activities lined up include media engagements, fling of annual tax returns by key personalities and all tax payers, setting up of Tax Clinics at vantage points in Accra and the regional Capitals to make returns filing easier for the public.
There will also be quiz competition among selected Tertiary Institutions, Symposium for selected Tertiary Institutions, and sensitization for Selected Basic Schools.
All taxpayers are required to file their 2017 and outstanding annual income tax returns by 30th April, 2018 after which the required penalty would be imposed on defaulters.
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