Fulfilling one’s civic obligation of paying tax has never been palatable news; from corporate organisations to shopkeepers and the ordinary citizen, issues of tax are an anathema. Simply put, many will try as much as possible to evade all such payments or pay as little as possible sometimes in collusion with some fraudulent officers of the tax agency.
Tax evasion is not peculiar to Ghana, even in the technologically advanced countries, organisations try to bend the rules but the peculiar structure of their society minimizes it. Once a while however one organization or individual slips through the net only to be caught years later or sometimes not at all.
When you consider Ghana where our financial transactions are mostly cash based, it is easier to evade almost all taxes. Interestingly, all citizens know the reasons why they must fulfill this basic civic obligation. They know that these taxes go to build the schools, hospitals, roads and other social amenities that they need in their towns and villages for their lives to be fulfilled.
With citizens recalcitrant to obey the laws, governments too had to devise ingenious ways to compel the eligible to pay. Many laws were therefore passed to compel us to pay. One of such legislations is the Excise Tax Stamp Act passed in December 2013 (Act 873) which demands that the stamp must be affixed on specified excisable goods.
Even the Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA, has been magnanimous enough not to begin prosecuting offenders immediately the law was passed.
Things have now reached a level that the GRA can no more bark but bite and Goldstreet Business agrees with the authority in totality in this regard. While we admire the Western countries for their level of infrastructural development, we as Ghanaians have intentionally refused to accept that whatever they have accomplished have been through their religious obeisance to that part of the law which makes it mandatory for citizens to pay – failure of which the defaulter could be imprisoned, fined or both while property bought from this illegality could be confiscated to the state.
Our tax authorities have been very lenient to the law breakers all these years. Their singular act of refusal to pay their taxes is a mill on the neck of this country, dragging it down the road of underdevelopment.
The grace period is surely over when viewed against the background that revenue targets for 2018 budget have been missed. This inability increases undue pressure on government as it also cannot improve the living conditions of the 30 million Ghanaians.
We at Goldstreet Business also agree with the Commissioner – General of the GRA when he said that “The of impunity about non-compliance with tax laws are completely over. We wish to convey to the public that they cannot choose and select which of the tax laws they want to obey.”
Having said this, we expect the authority to get cracking by prosecuting the tax evaders, failure to do that will rather encourage them to decide which tax to pay or not pay.
We however caution that while the prosecutions are on-going, the education on the tax stamp must be intensified. Additionally, the point being raised by some manufacturers that they do not have the means to procure the stamping machine must be listened to. They must be encouraged to procure theirs and go on to fulfill their tax obligations.
Concluding, we also call on all meaning and patriotic citizens who understand the concept of the excise stamp to encourage others to take a stand and pay their taxes.