Beginning next year, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will replace Tax Identification Numbers (TINs) with the Ghana Card numbers.
This will enable the authority to access information from other government agencies, including the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), the Driver ad Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA), the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and the Lands Commission, to enhance its operations.
The Chief Revenue Officer of the GRA, Clement Amankwah-Bonsu, said this at a dialogue on taxation in Accra yesterday.
"You will realise that the Ghana Card number is unique to every individual. With the TIN, some people, in their attempt to beat the system, managed to get additional TINs, so that at any point in time they would decide which number to use to their advantage. But with the Ghana Card coming into being, I think some of these challenges will be solved," he explained.
The National Multi-Stakeholder Tax Dialogue-Agenda, organised by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, formed part of the Promoting Progressive Property Taxation and Tax Compliance project in the country.
Mr Amankwah-Bonsu said the restructuring of the Domestic Tax Revenue Division of the GRA had brought about improved tax compliance in the country.
In addition, it had resulted in prompt taxpayer services and created convenience for taxpayers, he said.
Under the restructuring, with the country being divided into 10 zones, there were designated area offices set up with taxpayer centres, he added.
Mr Amankwah-Bonsu mentioned online filing of tax returns as one of the reforms being used to increase domestic revenue and ensure tax compliance, as against the previous situation where that was done manually.
That, he said, was assisting people to pay their taxes without any difficulty, and that staff of the GRA had been trained to help taxpayers address any challenges and stress.
Another intervention was the payment of taxes online, without necessarily moving from one office to another, he said.
With the help of the Ghana.Gov platform, people could now pay their taxes through mobile money and credit and visa cards, instead of cash and cheques, to the various GRA offices, he said.
“This cashless system has helped the GRA a lot because we used to have a lot of dishonoured cheques. People came with cheques, knowing very well that the cheques would not go through, but they dumped them at GRA offices and went away,” he said.
Among other things, the Chief Revenue Officer said, the GRA now had a fiat from the Attorney-General’s Department to embark on its own prosecution of tax defaulters, adding that the idea was not to send people to jail but ensure that people would know that it was their civic duty to pay their taxes.
Mr Amankwah-Bonsu said another thing that would make for tax compliance was the establishment of an independent tax appeals board to address taxpayers’ grievances and petitions.
High rates disincentive
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mark Badu-Aboagye, said getting more revenue from taxes was not about increasing the rates, since that would become a disincentive for people to evade tax.
He said the chamber expected the GRA to bring those who were not paying taxes on board to enhance revenue generation for development.
The Executive Director of Revenue Mobilisation, Africa, Geoffrey Ocansey, also called for the expansion of the tax base for the generation of more revenue, especially from those who were not paying taxes.
Some of the participants at the event charged the GRA to be effective and efficient in the collection of taxes.