“As we are saying we are independent but we will become fully independent when we stop depending on aid. What we have is political independence but economically, we are dependent on other countries and we know the ramifications—so much indebtedness with all the conditionalities they impose on us,” he said.
He said this during a tax sensitization campaign organized by the NCCE and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) at the Nungua market to inform the traders concerning the need to pay taxes to the state.
Reacting to the question on why government should take taxes from people who were struggling to make ends meet, Mr. Atiogbe said “as people enjoy the facilities, they forget that all these came from the government.”
He added that, “Do you use the roads; do you go to the hospital; when you are attacked by the armed robber, do you call the police; who builds the roads and where does the money come from? All these come from our taxes.”
He also assured the citizenry of NCCE’s anti-corruption campaign “so that people would know their money would not end up in people’s pockets.”
He observed that when this was done the country would develop, which could stop people from taking risky adventures abroad because there would be a lot for them to do here in Ghana.
He informed of how the law made it obligatory for every citizen who earned an income to pay tax, and that failure to do so came with penalties.
He observed that a lot of people did not pay tax due to the informal nature of their engagements, as such there was always little to do developmental projects and social interventions like the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Mr. Evans Kweku Boakye, Senior Revenue Officer, Teshie/Nungua Small Tax Office, GRA, said, “We want everybody to comply voluntarily; we don’t want the impression to be out there that GRA is harassing people’s businesses. Let’s move away from that regime to where everybody will voluntarily move to the GRA to declare their accounts for GRA to give them a fair assessment.”
Giving an example, he said that when GRA officials gave an income earner one thousand cedis and the person thought he could pay five hundred cedis that person needed to, “State his grounds for the objection why he can pay only five hundred. We will write to you, and looking at your performance if we think you can’t pay the thousand we would consider you.”
In that light, he observed that one of the challenges for GRA was record keeping on the part of the tax payers in the informal sector “so we find it very difficult to assess them fairly which makes it difficult to determine whether they are speaking the truth or not.”
He observed that the ‘tax stamp’ system is a major area through which those in the informal sector would be able to pay regular taxes by buying the tax stamps in advance for the products they sell.
He explained that everybody who wanted to start any business should first go the Registrar General’s to register the business and from there to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to get their Tax Identification Number (TIN).
He advised that “this helps a lot when one wants to travel outside country or bid for contracts because could be a requirement for such ventures.”
Madam Adwoa Achiaa of the Family Ventures pleaded with government to consider those in the informal sector because most of business was bare.
She believed that GRA should be a bit soft on them in demanding their tax certificates because their businesses could not easily be predicted as patronage kept rising and falling.