The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) says there are 18 million potential taxpayers, but less than three million pay tax in Ghana.
Mr George Amankwa-Boateng, Takoradi Area Director of the GRA, who made this known at a tax dialogue in Takoradi, said 32.3 per cent of the figure are public sector employees and 45,000 from the corporate sector.
He said only 12 per cent of the informal sector operators paid taxes, stressing that there was an existing challenge of poor tax compliance in the country.
The dialogue, which was organised by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), formed part of activities under an Oxfam-funded project dubbed “Promoting progressive property taxation and tax compliance in Ghana.”
The dialogue, among other things, assessed the challenges and opportunities around corporate taxation for a more efficient and accountable tax administration in Ghana.
The participants included policymakers and stakeholders from the private sector businesses from the hospitality industry, construction, oil and gas and services, among others.
Mr Amankwa-Boateng said the GRA was deploying technology to make tax payments easy for all taxpayers.
He said the Ghana card, which had been linked with the Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), would be the requirement to access government services in a bid to get more people to pay tax.
Also, the database of state institutions was being merged to help the GRA identify potential taxpayers and take the necessary steps to get them to pay taxes.
He said the GRA existed with the mandate to collect and access taxes, reduce administrative and tax compliance costs, promote the efficient collection of tax and equitable distribution of tax burden.
He said every Ghanaian had a constitutional responsibility to honestly honour their tax obligations.
Mr Amankwa-Boateng encouraged businesses to always keep a proper record of their tax payments.
Admitting that without proper domestic resource mobilisation, the country could not be run smoothly, Mr Albert Ababio, Regional Manager of the Ghana Association of Industries (AGI) said businesses needed to pay taxes.
However, he said, AGI’s engagement indicated that Ghana’s tax structure was more complex coupled with some challenges that made it impossible for businesses to honour their tax obligations properly.
He said businesses could only thrive when there was a robust economy and lauded the initiative to engage the private sector on how to achieve efficient and accountable tax administration in Ghana.
Mrs Beauty Emefa Narteh, Executive Secretary of the GACC, said the dialogue sought to explore the challenges and create the platform for stakeholders to engage the GRA on the best possible ways to increase tax compliance and accountability.
This, she stressed, was critical because tax mobilisation had a direct impact on the development of the country.
She said there would be no need for the country to seek foreign aid and borrowing if it was able to mobilize internal resources and manage them well.
The participants raised concerns relating to high taxes, lack of education, inequalities and the need for the GRA to ensure fairness in tax administration.
They also urged the government to protect local companies, especially those with strategic investments.