ACEP wades into National Tax Campaign;launches open tax Ghana platform to support GRA
As part of measures to compliment government’s efforts towards achieving its revenue mobilization goals in the country, the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has waded into the National Tax Campaign launched by the Ghana Revenue Authority(GRA) to outdoor a new campaign dubbed “opentaxghana”.
The “opentaxghana” campaign is a powerful online platform(www.opentaxghana.com) which among all other things seeks to engage citizens, help deepen conversation around tax mobilization and educate all Ghanaians on the need to honor their tax obligations promptly.
Designed with the finest user-friendly technology, the platform is uniquely endowed with 4 key tabs; 1. To help share tax information with citizens, 2. Offer information on how to pay your tax 3. Offer information on who is supposed to pay what tax and 4. Allow citizens to report any activity they identify that amounts to tax evasion within their own working communities or environments.
In addition, the platform also boasts of another tab which allows citizens to calculate the amount due in form of compensation towards assisting GRA in mobilizing tax leading towards successful recovery of evaded tax(es).
Furthermore, the platform also contain a tab which allows ACEP to put information received into a pictorial form or infographics to give account of what citizens portray as tax evasion and how it can be plugged so others can learn from it an be on a look out for same happenings within their various communities.
According to the Executive Director of African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye, the move has become necessary to support government’s effort as a good corporate citizen in the campaign “so that we’re not only seen to be criticizing or demanding but also contributing the tax effort and mobilization of revenue to support development in our country”.
Tax evasion is the illegal evasion of taxes by individuals, corporations and trusts. The act often entails taxpayers deliberately misrepresenting the true state of their affairs to the tax authorities to reduce their tax liability and includes dishonest tax reporting, such as declaring less income, profits or gains than the amounts actually earned, or overstating deductions.
A study into tax evasion revealed that Ghana loses close to $2.1 billion annually to tax evasion by corporate groups, individuals, multinationals and organisations operating in the country.
The study, carried out by the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), a civil society organisation, on behalf of the National Coordinating Council of Public Services International (PSI), further revealed that such entities either avoided tax or engaged in illicit trade which affected the tax net, thereby running down the national kitty.
According ISODEC, between 1970 and 2008, the nation lost in excess of $4.9 billion as a result of the dodging of taxes by such entities.
As a result, Ghana as nation has had to grapple with its developmental agenda’s due to the activities of tax evaders.
Shockingly, statistics in the petroleum downstream sector in 2016 also reveals the country has lost about 850 million cedis in an estimation through evasion and illegal practices of dumping products meant for export in the country
But addressing the media at the launch, Mr. Benjamin Boakye said “we cannot continue to enrich a few through this illegal practices at the expense of the state and the development that we want”.
“So collectively we have to have a position in helping government track some of these leakages to and ensure that people do not get away out of policies” he stressed.
He therefore called on the media to support the campaign and get the citizenry educated on how to effectively honour their tax obligations to help government rake in more revenue to meet it developmental goals.
For her part, Ms. Ananias Anaba, a representative from GRA commended ACEP for coming out with such a great initiative that seeks to back government efforts holistically to crack down on tax dodgers and increase the tax net.
The GRA on Wednesday, November 1 2017 launched the National Tax Campaign geared towards ensuring voluntary compliance in terms of taxation from people. It was also aimed at ensuring getting the needed revenue for the country.
According to Ms. Anaba, the campaign will focus on a number activities outlined by GRA under the first phase to send a strong message to public on the need to fulfil their tax obligations. She said it’ll be followed up in the coming days with a lot of enforcement activities to clamp down on recalcitrant people who refuses to offer their tax obligations.
She equally appealed to the media and all stakeholders to join hands with GRA to vigorously campaign against tax evasion in the country.
Touching on the importance of tax, Mr. Elorm Segbefia, a representative from the Department for International Development(DFID) disclosed it is very crucial in helping government carried out its developmental projects.
While commending ACEP for launching the opentaxghana campaign, he charged all and sundry to get involved in the public engagements and discussion about tax revenue mobilization as a way of supporting gov’t in its developmental efforts.
“So for DFID, we’re really saying that it’s our responsibility as Ghanaians to get involved in this discussion and that’s why we’ve asked that every Ghanaian should get involved” Mr. Segbefia concluded.
By Joseph Kobla Wemakor/GhanaNewsOne.Com