Associate Professor at the School of Law, University of Ghana, Professor Appiagyei-Atua says the Ghana Revenue Authority’s decision to name and shame professionals, especially lawyers, who evade taxes is not the way to go.
Speaking on Newsfile, he explained that failure to pay taxes is a criminal act hence the law should be applied in such situations.
Prof Appiagyei-Atua stated that it is time the GRA expanded its tax net; adding that even though lawyers have a responsibility to pay taxes it is up to the institution tasked to collect the taxes to do their job.
“The name and shame thing I don’t think that is the way to go. Just naming and shaming would not be enough, it is a moral application of the law and we should let the law bite. Because if you don’t pay your taxes it is a criminal act,” he told Samson Lardy Anyenini on Saturday.
He also urged GRA to use the opportunity to propose legislation that can aid in closing loopholes that allow people to use legal means to reduce the amount of tax that is payable.
His comment comes after President Akufo-Addo, delivering a speech at the Annual General Conference of the Ghana Bar Association in Bolgatanga, called on the Bar to urge lawyers to pay their taxes.
Accordion to him, the record of high-net-worth professionals, including lawyers, paying taxes has been historically poor adding that it is unfortunate that members of the profession have not been known to set a good example.
“They appear to think that being members of the learned professions put them above complying with everyday civic duty like paying taxes. It is embarrassing that lawyers are often at the top of the list of those who flout our tax laws and use their expertise to avoid paying taxes,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo on Monday called on citizens to make payment of taxes a regular predictable part of their lives as Ghanaians.
Also at the event, Attorney General, Godfred Dame made a passionate appeal to lawyers in the country to ensure that they honour their tax obligations.
He said that many of the taxes paid by some lawyers are not commensurate with their luxurious lifestyles or the revenue they generate.
Prof Appiagyei-Atua, on Newsfile, said despite the responsibility of GRA to collect the taxes, lawyers have a duty to pay their taxes.
“We have been educated, benefited from the country’s resources, been able to get some work to do and therefore the duty is on us to share, payback to the state. I think there is also that responsibility on lawyers to ensure that we obey the law and also help others to obey the law.”
“So if we have a client who wants to evade tax it is a criminal act and so we shouldn’t do that but if it is tax avoidance that one is not an illegal act. So, I think that is where the GRA has to come in to make sure that if there are some loopholes that need to be closed it will come by way of proposing legislation so that they can be closed.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Godfred Dame believes that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is “majorly responsible” for the evasion of taxes by some lawyers and qualified taxpayers in other professions.
“The GRA ought to device the appropriate mechanism for ensuring that the tax net is broadened to its elastic limit in order to bring within it, all potential taxpayers including all practising lawyers,” he said on Monday.
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