THE Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has unveiled three tools to encourage and enhance tax payment and compliance in the country.
They are the Electronic Tax Clearance Certificate (E-TCC), a tax compliance short code (*880#) and an online tax filing system.
The E-TCC, which is a document evidenced by the Commissioner-General of the GRA to confirm that a taxpayer has met all tax obligations as of the date of issue, replaces the manual way of applying for a tax certificate.
The short code (*880#) has been designed to assist taxpayers to check on their tax compliance status.
The online tax filing system also provides the platform for taxpayers to seamlessly file their returns on the taxpayers’ portal online using a smartphone, a computer or a tablet.
The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who launched the tools in Accra yesterday, said the thinking behind the initiatives was to provide a shift in attitudes towards tax payments, “so that we all become law-abiding citizens contributing our quota to national development”.
He said the payment of taxes had never been pleasant.
He was, therefore, happy with the introduction of the E-TCC, which he said enabled taxpayers in good standing to be officially declared as tax compliant.
He proposed the need for a national conversation on taxes, saying it would help deepen the people’s understanding of the taxes paid and the resultant consequences of non-compliance.
He charged the GRA to turn its attention more to the millions of individuals and enterprises that did not file taxes.
“For the most part, we tend to concentrate on those who have already filed; that is the easy way out.
The focus is rather on those who have not filed their taxes and we should be setting targets for our officers to be bringing in people into the tax net.
That is how we will widen the net,” the Vice-President said.
Dr Bawumia announced that the month of April each year had been designated as ‘Tax and Good Governance Month’ in the country and further urged all Ghanaians, particularly those who earned regular incomes, to faithfully submit their tax returns and declare any taxes due.
Taxes, he said, were the life blood of any country and were used to build nations.
“When we faithfully declare and pay our taxes, we will be in a position to hold government accountable to what our tax money is being used for,” he said.
He indicated that with the introduction of the tools, the government, and for that matter the GRA, had put in place all the building blocks for effective domestic revenue mobilisation.
“At any point in time, we will know who has filed his or her taxes and who has not.
We will also know which property owners have paid their property taxes and who have not.
Anybody can find his or her tax status,” he noted, stressing that it was now incumbent on the GRA to leverage all those pillars and digital technology to ensure and enforce compliance.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, for his part, expressed optimism that the initiatives would make tax compliance easier, increase revenue collection, promote transparency and accountability and enhance the country’s competitiveness.
He said technology continued to play a pivotal role, and that the tax system of the country must keep up with the changes.
“So while we continue to take steps to increase public trust in the tax system and promote good governance, I urge all stakeholders to support the GRA and, indeed, the broader government to work towards making our tax system more efficient and effective,” he said
He said the government was awaiting the passage of the Income Tax Amendment Bill, the Excise Duty Amendment Bill and the Growth and Sustainability (Amendment) Bill, all of which were critical to enable the GRA to implement those measures and increase the needed revenue.
“These bills are in Parliament, which will rise [today], so we encourage all of you to encourage Parliament to do what is right,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
“We are optimistic that Parliament, in the national interest, will pass these bills before the close of the week,” he added.