Issues of tax payment have always been met with confusion. While one party agrees that payments should be made according to law, another school of thought insists that they need more time and education to resolve the issues embedded in the implementation of the new tax stamp.
Once more, we have reached a cross-road where government, represented by the Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA and the potential tax payers’, represented by Association of Ghana Industries, AGI, are literally at each other’s’ throat.
As government wants to extract its pound of flesh from the industries, the AGI is saying the ground is not ripe to embark on this journey. The tax payers insist that government must create the enabling environment through some tax exemptions that will make it possible for them to fulfil their tax obligations and also remain in business.
The situation has pitted the producers against the retailers which is not looking palatable. Just like what happened in the introduction of the Value Added Tax, VAT regime years ago which saw many on the street screaming ‘No to VAT’ but eventually they accepted it to become our financial savior as far as government’s fiscal resources is concerned.
Having burdened itself with so many developmental projects, the most important being the free Senior High School education programme, Government will not relent in its efforts to collect every pesewa owed its kitty by the tax payer.
One way of doing this is the introduction of the tax stamp which though has been in the statute books for years, is finally being implemented; obviously the payers and manufacturers are not enthused about this at all.
It has been an interesting week as the two protagonists face each other in the court of public opinion, as against what the law espouses. When government decided to introduce the stamp tax, it consulted all stakeholders and educated the general public on the relevance of the new stamp.
In implementing this tax, the Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA, has insisted on using the law to its advantage against the citizenry, majority of who are yet to register their businesses with the relevant state authorities.
What was witnessed this week – seizure of goods in transit and in the stores – is not something that many will want to see repeated.
As citizens, we want to express our utter disgust with the extreme positions taken by the authorities in pursuit of the tax. Some businesses face a close down as many of the overstretched proprietors are already screaming over the multiple high taxes and finally being burdened by the tax stamp.
Though the philosophers have always postulated that where persuasion fails, force must be applied, we want to stand totally against this imposition. We have seen the result of the application of force in the introduction of VAT and we will not want those scenes repeated on the streets of Accra again.
Already AGI is warning of dire consequences as it will be forced to send at least 5000 workers home and the attendant reduction in revenue. Is this what we want?
We at Goldstreet Business want to side with AGI in its plea that the GRA must remove her compliance officers from the factories while more consultation is held in relation to the tax stamp policy.
As the two bodies argue over what to do next, let the history of VAT guide us all in resolving this issue, though it is meant to improve the government’s fiscal position and may lead to consequences not anticipated.
On our part, we want to call on the two parties – GRA and AGI – to take a step back and dialogue to settle this matter once and for all.