My E-Levy questions

BY: Caroline Boateng

As a citizen, I feel a bit resentful of the E-Levy announced in the 2022 Budget.

I am toying with the idea, indeed, planning on shelving digital convenience for the analogue tedium of waiting in long queues at banking halls.

I have dusted my cheque book and would be making regular visits to banking in 2022.

With the kinds of salaries earned at the end of the month, deducting 1.75 per cent whenever I momo above GH¢100 in payments to a third party is most inconvenient for me.

Every pesewa of what is earned counts.

Now the argument is that the E-Levy would accrue GH¢6.9 billion in 2022.

It is said to rope more people into the tax net.

It will have no additional cost when administering it.

It will be deducted at source whenever I initiate payment above GH¢100, thus no need for a tax administrator demanding compliance.

Convinient

The E-Levy is a convenient tax for the government.

No new tax infrastructure is needed for that, the government just had to cash in, with figures from the finance minister showing that in 2020, total digital transactions were estimated to be more than GH¢500 billion.

With drivers up in arms and threatening to strike, traders and importers threatening price hikes if taxes were placed on petroleum products which would have made the government look bad, coupled with various sector pressures and demands, the government saw the E-Levy as the most easy way for them in mobilising revenue.

However, individuals like me, it is most pinching.

I really cannot envisage paying GH¢4.05 (GH¢1.50 - service charge /GH¢2.55 - E-Levy) for sending GH¢150 to my grandmother in my village.

That would mean foregoing my ball of kenkey (GH¢1.50) and GH¢2 worth of kenam or an egg, just in service charges and the E-Levy charge.

Some say that with a mostly unbanked rural population, mobile money (MOMO) is the most convenient and nearest to banking one can have in such communities.

Informal endeavours in agriculture, with monetary values of about GH¢150 to GH¢300 are caught in the E-Levy net, which would be a burden on farmers and traders of produce in rural communities.

Additionally, why does it seem to me that I am being taxed twice?

How can I pay income tax on earnings and face a second tax with the E-Levy, when I transfer some of my money (already taxed) to pay a third party ?

Inability

The E-Levy, for me, speaks of the inability of the political leaders to exert themselves in thinking through innovative tax measures for all Ghanaians to pay their taxes.

Usually, the informal sector is the big excuse.

Our disorganised sprawling informal sector deprives tax administrators the appetite to sit, think through options and get all Ghanaians enrolled and paying taxes, so the MOMO infrastructure of the MTNs, Vodafones, and Airtel/Tigos, is conveniently hijacked to rake in money.

The argument too is that the Vice President, through his digitalisation efforts: the national identification and digital house addressing system is gradually getting the country to the point of all paying taxes.

But until then, do we cease thinking through how to broaden the tax net, or making better the administration of indirect taxes?

I maintain that tax administrators should get out of cities into districts, start with market women.

Sensitise them on the need for paying taxes, teach them about basic book keeping, find a formula for calculating their taxes, then give them some months for them to start paying.

Above all, the disheartening aspect of paying taxes in Ghana is that we do not see what taxes are used for.

If citizens were to really see concrete things being done with our taxes, perhaps, its payment would be less burdensome.

As it is now, it seems I pay tax to directly get a politician a V8 to flaunt.

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