A senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana, and the director of Ali-Nakyea & Associates, Dr. Ali-Nakyea has intimated that getting professionals to be compliant and file their tax returns remains one of the top challenges of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
According to him, the GRA has made efforts in this respect, but has yet to materialize. He noted that the GRA has had discussions with the professional bodies like the Ghana Bar Association for lawyers, Ghana Medical and Dental Council for doctors, Institute for chartered Accountants, etc. on the matter.
He noted that, this move will rather help, since if professionals get roped in and are compliant, they can then guide their clients to do same.
“If the professionals are also roped in and are compliant and file their returns and pay up. They are the people representing taxpayers. If they are not [roped in] and compliant, how can they guide their clients to be like that?
“So, I think that we have to move like other jurisdictions, if you haven’t filed your returns and you are not up-to-date with your taxes, you are not able to get a tax clearance certificate. And if you don’t get it, your license is not renewed.
“And your license is what gives you the business and the income. If you don’t renew your license you can’t represent a client in court, for example then you are not in practice as a lawyer, you can’t sign audited accountant as a chartered accountant, you can get your practice renewed as a medical doctor… so, I think we need to segment and ensure all these people are complying.”
“But, the biggest of it all, is that… if some people are complying and they see non-complying people walking free, of course, it discourages them and dampens their spirit of being very compliant.”Dr Ali-Nakyea, Ali-Nakyea & Associates
Categories of tax payers
Furthermore, he underscored that willingness to pay taxes partly hinges on the individual’s knowledge about the law, guidance to tax compliance and blatant avoidance of tax payment.
On this account, he noted that there are three categories of tax payers: first, those who are oblivion of the law and therefore, do not know what to do; second, those who have knowledge of the law but do not know what to do; third, those who know the law and know what to do, but have chosen to ignore the law.
According to him, the first category needs education to gain knowledge about the law as well as guidance in order to comply with it. For the second category, they only need guidance to comply since they know the law. For the third category, they need neither education nor guidance but are rather recalcitrant taxpayers.
To be able to identify these different groups, he called for an improved tax audit by the GRA. Nonetheless, he deems the impact of COVID to have affected this process, thus, making the physical inspection of documents of certain firms difficult.
“The idea of tax audit is an opportunity to visit the taxpayer, [and] inspect his books… so you identify them so that you get the opportunity to educate them and guide them on what to do. And from the [tax audit], you will be able to tell whether it is intentional or not.”Dr. Ali-Nakyea, Ali-Nakyea & Associates
READ ALSO: Tax court will boost domestic resource mobilization- Dr. Ali-Nakyea
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