BY G. D. Zaney
Revenue generation is an essential component of fiscal policies formulated to satisfy economic and social needs.
Thus any financial system can hardly be stable without a viable tax system – and a viable tax system means increased revenue generation backed by effective revenue collection strategies.
Presently, as it stands, the tax system in Ghana faces many daunting challenges which Government, as a key stakeholder, is determined to overcome by creating a conducive environment for revenue administration and compliance.
This determination on the part of Government culminated into a project aimed at integrating and modernizing the country’s tax system with the objective of achieving higher domestic resource mobilization.
The Tax Reform and Modernization Project, culminating into the enactment of the Ghana Revenue Authority Act, 2009 (Act 791), which is expected to improve tax payer service and processes at the country’s tax and customs offices, and promote tax payer compliance, involves changes to the structure of domestic tax offices, massive staff relocation and training for staff of the revenue agencies.
The project, it is expected, will significantly alter the environment in which the three revenue agencies engage businesses, individual tax payers and the general public. It also entails a major review of all tax processes by utilizing technology under the e-Government project to reduce costs, collect revenue and enforce tax laws effectively.
While Government makes efforts to address the challenges of the tax system in the country, revenue institutions, on their part, are obliged to effectively implement a fair and efficient tax system through improved practices and sound corporate governance, using modern risk management techniques. Revenue institutions are also expected to discharge their duties with the highest standards of integrity, discipline and good governance.
One other most important stakeholder in tax administration is the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Ghana (CITG) which has been operating as a professional body since 1978.
On February 8, 2001, the Institute became the Chartered Institute of Taxation, having been incorporated a company limited by guarantee on May 2, 1980, under the Companies Code, 1963 (Act 179), as the Ghana Institute of Taxation and registered under the Professional Bodies Registration Decree 1977 with Professional Bodies Certificate number PB 38.
Meanwhile, a Draft Bill to incorporate the CITG under an Act of Parliament has reached an advanced stage.
In line with its object of promoting the study of the administration and practice of taxation and the principles of economic and political science in relation to taxation and public finance, and to provide opportunities for the acquisition and dissemination of useful information concerning taxation, CITG has decided to review its present syllabus for the professional qualification.
The CITG, it is worthy of note, is an examining body, whose examinations are written twice a year in February and August.
The proposed syllabus review is, therefore, no doubt, a bold attempt to bring the content of the courses offered by CITG to contemporary levels.
The Institute has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Zennith University College for Zennith University to provide tuition to students who desire to take taxation as a career.
It is important to note that in the not too distant future, employment with any Revenue Authority in Ghana can only be secured with a certificate issued by the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT).
By these measures, CITG would be producing tax professionals to formulate tax strategies for government and business organizations and, thereby, assist them to make informed strategic choices regarding the tax implications of their operations.
The tax professional also becomes relevant, in fact, indispensable, in providing tax research services and tax advisory services to Government and investors about their operations, tax benefits and tax havens.
The tax professional also has the duty of developing a tax function structure for organizations as a means of good corporate governance practice as well as providing tax compliance services to clients and addressing procedural problems of complying with tax laws.
Again, the tax professional also serves as a facilitator who plays an advocacy role for the enactment of tax laws that will promote economic growth and development, and better standards of living.
The tax professional’s role as an agent for tax education and awareness creation about tax laws and practices, and for the simplification of tax administration procedures can also not be underestimated.
Thus recognizing its strategic role as a stakeholder in tax administration, CITG has relaunched its official Journal – The Tax Practitioner – which has not been published for the past eight years.
The Tax Practitioner will serve as a platform for the dissemination of tax information and as a mouthpiece for the CITG.
With the re-introduction of the official Journal and the eventual passage of the CITG Bill into Law, the performance of CITG is expected to be enhanced, leading to the realization of its objects to complement Government’s efforts to promote a sustainable tax system and a stable financial environment for economic growth and development.
The writer is an officer of the Information Services Department.