Last week, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) announced that it had waived interest payment and penalties on tax defaulting companies and individuals as part of measures to encourage full compliance.
Subsequently, it has asked the tax defaulters; that is, those already in the tax system and the ones yet to register with the GRA, to take full advantage of the amnesty granted until the end of September this year, to avoid sanctions.
The move by the GRA is intended, among other measures, to ensure that those eligible for the payment of taxes do so voluntarily without having the long arm of the law reaching them. It also forms part of aggressive measures put in place by the present managers of the GRA to ensure that they widen the tax net to enable more people to pay.
In 2017, the authority failed to meet its revenue collection target because it could only rake in GH¢32.3 billion, representing a shortfall of GH¢1.1 billion. This year, the GRA has a tax revenue target of GH¢39.8 billion.
It has, therefore, become imperative for the GRA to be more proactive in ensuring that those in the tax net comply to honour their obligations while those outside are brought in.
From the tax amnesty exercise, the GRA is expecting to raise between GH¢300 million and GH¢500 million for the government. This, when done, will push the authority to a notch closer to achieving its revenue target for the year.
Tax is one word many do not want to hear, particularly in our part of the world. To some, taxes eat into their profitability while others are of the view that the government does not put the taxes to good use.
As factual as the various positions may be, it is also true that a nation can only develop by using the taxes of its people to construct roads, hospitals, schools and also embark on social activities such as the provision of health insurance and presently, the free senior high school programme. There are many other areas where funds from taxes are needed to accomplish.
It is against this background that the GRAPHIC BUSINESS would encourage all to honour their tax obligations to the state. No matter the reason, there is no justification to go against the law just because we feel some people may mismanage or misappropriate the revenue collected.
Particularly at this time when the President has taken a bold step towards making Ghana a country without aid, there is the need for us all to put our shoulder to the wheel to enable him to succeed with that agenda.
Despite the fact that some state officials squander a portion of the paid, we need to have solace in the fact at least, the government has taken some giant steps towards ensuring that those found culpable for any kind of embezzlement are dealt with.
To us, we should heave a sigh of relief because the appointment of the Special Prosecutor gives much hope. We know that the Special Prosecutor will not disappoint Ghanaians.
Having shown that commitment to plug the holes in the system, we as citizens need to honour our tax obligations by having the conviction that the monies will be preserved and put to good use in the interest of all.
Instead of cracking the whip straight away, the GRA has chosen to use moral suasion to ensure that those who have not honoured their obligation would have some space to recover and do what is right per the law.
We commend the GRA for its action and hope that the efforts to widen the net to rope in more taxpayers will yield the needed results. — GB