The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) recently launched a tax campaign to encourage Ghanaians to fulfill their tax obligations. Hopefully, the eight (8 ) million Ghanaians or so, quoted by the Commissioner General as missing from Ghana’s tax register will be enrolled. We commend GRA for its tax campaign and call on all Ghanaians to support the GRA to succeed.
However, the GRA must do more to ensure that the Government’s tax initiatives are adequately complemented.
Parliament enacted the Revenue Administration (ACT 915) in 2016, which seeks to harmonize tax laws and streamline taxation in Ghana. The passage of Act (915) is expected to give focus and increase efficiency in revenue collection. And pivotal to the above, the Tax-Payer Identification Number (TIN) system is an integral part of the Act (915). However, this initiative which started way back in 2002, from all indications cannot be realised soon.
The TIN, meant to formalize the tax field by recording basic information on taxpayers as well as monitoring commercial activities, was made pivotal to the law, in that its absence or lack thereof makes it almost impossible to do business with Government. The Act also MANDATES the GRA to ensure that all MDAs and MMDAs facilitate the implementation of the TIN.
Yet, fast forward in 2017, in the mist of all the Governments initiatives to formalize the economy, the GRA has not been able to live up to its institutional responsibility and mandate, to ensure that the TIN becomes integral in the ongoing national identification system. At best, from all indications, the TIN is not going to be part of the NIA system from the outset.
Currently, there are mixed messages. While it is speculated that the Ghana Card’s unique identification will replace the TIN, it is however not clear what becomes of the company registration system which has the TIN at its core. This mixed messages and ambiguity of such a major policy is a recipe for disaster and concern that needs clarification from policy-makers.
However, ISODEC believes the Revenue Administration Act 915 mandates the GRA to implement the TIN through all MDAs and MMDAs and must therefore assert its institutional responsibility to ensure that the TIN receives the needed attention in the ongoing digital economy initiative of the Government. We recommend that the GRA:
Maintains its own database on tax-payers for the purpose of tax enforcement, verification and research. This should be appropriately linked to the National Identification system from the outset.
GRA holds a discussion with the National Identification Authority (NIA) to ensure that the TIN under the Revenue Administration Act (915) receives the needed attention, as quickly as possible. That it must be one of the requirements for adults who seek to enroll onto the NIA system. This will encourage all Ghanaians in tax paying position to register for the TIN.
GRA works with the National Identification System, to ensure that its linkage to the Tax database automatically sends notification to citizen that were not previously 18 years, but attains that age subsequently becomes eligible as tax payers, unless otherwise. Such persons are automatically recognized by the NIA system, allowing the GRA to send them registration request for tax purposes. This approach will ensure that all persons are automatically known to the GRA and are assigned TINs as an obligation. This ensures improved outcome of the national identification system.
GRA as a matter of urgency and backed by the Act 915, officially attentions all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies and MDAs to ensure that all contractors and/or service seekers are registered for TIN in accordance with the Revenue Administration Act (915), without which any public contract should not be executed. The situation is currently one of the bottlenecks for the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) implementation process at MMDAs level where the TIN is required for all financial matters.
GRA steps up effort to have this important policy; the TIN implemented now, while it engages in its ongoing national tax campaigns.
Bernard Anaba Email: firstname.lastname@example.org