The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has organised a day’s symposium for students of the University of Professional Studies and University of Ghana, Legon, to build their understanding and the need to follow the country’s Tax Compliance policy.
Mr Kwesi Bobie-Ansah, the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Communications at the GRA, said the exercise was part of the observation of the Tax and Good Governance Week celebration and an effort of GRA to encourage income earners to file their tax returns.
He said there was the need to comply with the tax policy because it made the taxpayer a good citizen and helped in promoting good governance.The participants were taken through the Ghana Revenue Authority Act (Act 791) in addition to the Revenue Administration Act.
Mr Lawrence Hotsonyame, a Chief Revenue Officer at the GRA, explained to the participants the need to acquire a Tax Identification Number (TIN), which would enable them to pay their taxes as responsible citizens. He said registration for the TIN was necessary and that without it, it was impossible to transact business with a number of government institutions and agencies as well as access financial services in the country.
He introduced the students to the various forms of taxes collected by GRA, which were categorised as Direct Taxes and Indirect Taxes. The Direct Taxes, he said were Corporate Income Tax, Personal Income Tax, Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Rent Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Gift Tax, Dividend Tax, National Resource Payment, Royalties, Stamp Duty, Vehicle Income and Tax Stamp.
For the Indirect Taxes, Mr Hotsonyame said included Valued Added Tax, Excise Duty, Common Service Tax, Export Duty, Import Duties, Levies, among others. He said Lottery winning was taxed until January 1, this year when it was repealed. He said all taxpayers had four obligations to register, file returns, payment of your taxes and provision of disclosure, adding that there were due dates for filing returns.
Mr Hotsonyame introduced the participants to the offences that were raised against taxpayers who did not fulfil their obligations such as failure to comply with the provision of the tax law. He said Ghana had so far signed and ratified Double Tax Agreements with nine countries, which allowed them to pay tax only once in one country and therefore asked the students to take advantage of that in their future ventures.
Mrs Yayra Teye, a lawyer at Ali-Nakyea & Associates, said there were tax incentives for young entrepreneurs, which enabled them to enjoy tax holidays for a number of years before they started paying and filing tax returns.
She said the tax law made provisions for tax reliefs for tax for persons with disability, marriage and responsibility, old age for persons above sixty years, child education for an individual who sponsoring the education of the child in a recognised registered educational institution.
The participants were exposed to the three-way compliance strategies of the GRA to ensure that every taxpayer was complying with the tax laws. The tax compliance being executed by the GRA are in the areas of prevention, detection and deterrence. The GRA undertakes programmes to motivate and change behaviour of the taxpayer, use media campaign and also use the disclosure schemes for the preventive strategy.
For the detection strategy, GRA relies on information from the public on institutions and individuals who do not file the tax returns, use data marching, risk assessment and undertakes tax audit.
GRA also uses administrative penalties, sale of charged assets, third party debtors, restraint orders and prosecution are engaged to discourage taxpayers who do not comply with the tax law of the land. The participants asked a number of questions to clear their doubts on the issue of TIN, the need to pay tax on gifts received and the processes of filing tax returns and many others.