The sound of tax always sends shivers down the spine of individuals and businesses. This is because people perceive the payment of taxes from their earnings as a burden because of the impact on their incomes.
But the payment of tax is a civic responsibility and every income-earning citizen or business is entitled to pay it.
In the Bible, Christ endorsed the practice when He said: “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to the Lord what is the Lord’s.”
Many a time, people forget that roads, schools, hospitals and other social development projects and programmes are undertaken using money from the very small taxes that we pay.
According to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), although many Ghanaians are engaged in income-earning activities, especially in the informal sector, only about 1.2 million people pay direct taxes.
As if that is not sad enough, out of the number, about one million are in the formal sector, leaving only about 200,000 in the informal sector. The result of this situation is that for a long time the contribution of the informal sector to total tax revenue has remained below five per cent, although the economy is dominated by informal sector players.
This phenomenon is not only unfortunate but also unacceptable, considering the level of development the country wants to attain.
Again, since we are now a lower middle-income country, support from multilateral and bilateral sources has dwindled sharply, leaving the government with no option but to borrow at concessional rates to be able to provide basic social amenities for the people.
We seem to forget that when a government borrows, we the citizens suffer because we are forced to pay indirectly.
It is against this background that we, as citizens, need to honour our tax obligations to the state.
In its quest to change the narrative from sitting and allowing the people to come and discharge their civic responsibilities, the GRA last Wednesday launched a comprehensive national tax campaign meant to encourage more Ghanaians to honour their tax obligations to enable the government to realise its domestic revenue targets, increase social intervention policies and undertake more development projects across the country.
The aggressive campaign, which will include stakeholder engagements, dawn broadcasts, social media activities, consistent media announcements, community outreach programmes, compliance and enforcement activities, among other things, is also meant to help increase the number of people paying taxes from about 16 per cent to be at par with the sub-regional average of 20 per cent.
The Graphic Business highly commends the GRA for the proactive initiative which is meant to ensure voluntary compliance, especially against the backdrop of challenges the government is facing in meeting its revenue targets.
We are equally not oblivious of the numerous government’s social intervention programmes being implemented while some are in the pipeline. But these interventions cannot be successfully funded if we, as citizens and businesses, do not see the need to honour our obligations to the state.
It is our fervent hope that people will not evade tax but will, henceforth, become the responsible citizens we are meant to be.
The road to success will be rough for the GRA but let us all note that if the country must be what we expect it to be, then the onus lies on us all to honour our tax obligations.
While we are at it, we back the call by GUTA on the government to ensure that state purse is protected to encourage Ghanaians to freely do what is required of them. — GB