Tax evaders to be denied access to passports & visas
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has announced it will begin rolling out a new policy which will see Ghanaian tax evaders denied access to passports, driver’s license and visas. The policy is expected to commence from the 1st of January 2017. The GRA’s roll out of the new policy follows the implementation of the revised tax law – 2015 tax Act. To be exempted from the new policy the GRA says all Ghanaians who are taxable must get a tax payer identification number or they will be unable to renew passports, drivers licenses or even attain a visa. Speaking to Citi Business News at a Tax Education Seminar, the
Assistant Commissioner of Adabraka STO with the Ghana Revenue Authority, Elizabeth Hammond encouraged all Ghanaians to be tax compliant. ‘’In the next year, if you do not have the tax payer identification number you will not even be able to renew your passport or your vehicle number and its effective 1st January,2017. So I will encourage everyone to get a tax payer identification number from any tax office. It doesn’t mean that when you come we are taking tax from you, once you are already paying anywhere all you need to do is to go there and get yourself registered.’’ Ghanaians protest But some Ghanaians have expressed mixed reactions over the new policy. But some taxpayers who spoke to Citi
Business News described the move as a misplaced one. One of them said ‘’actually I am not aware of it ,if there is anything they want to put in place or implement by next year, there should have been publicity about it so people will know what’s happening, otherwise as some of us are not aware we might not be able to do anything next year.’’ While another said ‘’honestly I’m not aware of anything and I honestly don’t agree to that ,I don’t agree to that at all.’’ Another tax payer told Citi Business News that ‘’yes I am aware, the GRA tax commissioners came to Kumasi to educate us about it, so I have my Tax Identification Number now.’’
Tax challenges Government has been battling for years to deal with tax evasion as well as pull in the informal sector into Ghana’s tax net but has been unsuccessful. It is believed that about 80% of businesses and people in the informal sector of the economy are not paying taxes due to lack of a historical database to track them.
There have been calls for government to enforce the right laws and put in place structures to get workers in the informal sector to pay the appropriate taxes. Assistant Commissioner of Adabraka STO with the Ghana Revenue Authority, Elizabeth Hammond told Citi Business News the authority will continue enforcing laws which will ensure that everyone is tax compliant. ‘The challenges are many, in the first place nobody likes to pay taxes so getting us to sensitize people to come round to comply, is difficult, but basically it involves education and also reminding people to pay their tax.
Many times we are forced to go all out and my even have to lock up places, which is not something we love to do but we are sometimes compelled to do so. There are many benefits from paying your tax some of which allow you to run as a Member of Parliament, importing and exporting of goods as well as obtaining a visa’. She said.
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