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GRA simplifies tax payment and returns with new software

BY: Chris Nunoo

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has introduced a software for the payment of taxes and the filing of tax returns.

Known as the Integrated Tax Application and Preparation System (ITaPS), the system enables institutions and individuals to pay their taxes and file tax returns with their mobile phones or computers.

It is expected to make the payment and filing of taxes simpler, faster and more convenient and improve record keeping.

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who performed the launch at the opening of the second Tax and Good Governance Week, charged the GRA to widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector and other professionals onto the tax system.

Background

The maiden Tax and Good Governance Week, meant to increase awareness of the need for people to file their annual tax returns and pay the appropriate taxes, was launched in April last year. This year’s is the second edition.

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The ITapS software has been carefully designed and developed to give the taxpayer an easy and convenient way of fulfilling his or her civic responsibility of filing and paying taxes.

Dr Bawumia, who had together with the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, and other government officials filed their returns with the iTapS platform, said: “I am encouraged that GRA is making great strides in redesigning its processes and procedures to improve tax administration.”

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He hinted that the GRA would soon launch an electronic payment platform for operators in the informal sector, particularly commercial transport operators and tax stamp payers for the small-scale self-employed and commended the GRA and the Ministry of Finance for the initiative and collaboration.

The Vice-President said: “I threw a challenge to the Commissioner-General of the GRA at the launch of the maiden Tax and Good Governance Week last year to come up with a simplified electronic filing system that will enable taxpayers to file their tax returns using their phones or computers at their convenience.”

He expressed satisfaction and happiness that the commissioner-general had risen up to the challenge and developed the tax returns filing software.

Theme

Speaking on the theme for this year’s Tax and Good Governance Week celebration: “File Your Tax Returns, Pay Your Taxes, Move Ghana Beyond Aid”, Dr Bawumia said the theme was a direct call to action to all Ghanaians to be a part of the revenue mobilisation process.

“I believe the theme is a realisation of the fact that the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda of the government cannot be a success without every individual’s effort to be tax compliant. The ability to raise domestic resources to sustain our development is at the core of the Ghana Beyond Aid vision.

Dr Bawumia said the country’s status as a lower middle-income country was a precarious one and the country could slide back, therefore, moving beyond aid came with a huge responsibility to mobilise enough revenue to cater for the country’s own development needs without looking forward to aid and grants from developed countries and donor agencies, adding that: “Our status means that we are in charge of our own destiny.”

“Fortunately, I am informed that GRA has been allocated about 8,000 interns from the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) and so having added 8,000 extra hands to the permanent staff of GRA, I believe the authority will have no reason to repeat these statistics in the future on grounds of inadequate staff to comb all commercial centres to locate potential taxpayers,” the Vice-President stated.

Taxpayer Identification Number

On the enforcement of the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) system from April last year, the Dr Bawumia said there had been a positive response, with many Ghanaians registering. He called on those yet to respond to do so.

He, however, appealed to the top management of the GRA to urgently resolve the challenges with the system to speed up the registration process to maintain the interest and enthusiasm shown by the public. 

Dr Bawumia said the government was fully committed to its goal of moving the economy from one of taxation towards production and that it was “time for us as Ghanaians to contribute our quota to the national coffers”.

That, he indicated, would enable the country to have enough resources to provide for the free SHS, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), revamp the railway sector, construct new roads, improve existing ones and meet all other legitimate demands of the people.

“These we must do with our own resources because that is the surest and most reliable motor for sustainable development. It is worth noting that this means allowing production and profits first before taxation but not a complete turn away from taxation,” Dr Bawumia added.

Commissioner-General

The Commissioner-General of the GRA, Mr Emmanuel Kofi Nti, said the payment of taxes and the filing of tax returns were statutory and constitutional requirements which must be adhered to by all.

He said the staff of GRA were anxious to meet this year’s revenue target and would, therefore, fully apply the necessary sanctions on defaulting taxpayers and those who had refused to honour their tax obligations.

On his part, a Board Member of the GRA, Major (retd) Daniel Ablorh Quarcoo, who chaired the function, gave an assurance that the GRA was working to ensure the full automation of its work.

Maj. Quarcoo, himself a former Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), appealed to taxpayers to cooperate and position themselves to file their tax returns online.