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Akufo-Addo to lawyers: Pay your taxes to inspire Ghanaians to do so

Addressing this year’s Ghana Bar Association conference, Akufo-Addo says Ghana Revenue Authority records show that lawyers do not pay their taxes

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has charged lawyers in Ghana to pay their taxes to inspire Ghanaians to pay theirs, too, in order for the country to undertake more development projects.

Addressing the annual Ghana Bar Association conference, held this year in Bolgatanga, Akufo-Addo said records of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) show that lawyers across the country are among those who do not pay normal income and corporate taxes.

“I have to point out that if this campaign you are undertaking [to make lawyers more active partners in the national fight against corruption] is to be successful, you will have to start from home. Mr Outgoing President of the Bar, there is no easy way of putting this: you will have to start by getting members of the Bar to pay their taxes.

“The record of lawyers in paying taxes has been historically poor. It is unfortunate but the most unpleasant fact is that the members of our profession have not been known to set a good example when it comes to paying taxes,” the president said.

“They appear to think that being members of the learned profession puts them above complying with everyday civic duties 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,” he said.

The theme of the conference is “Ensuring an Increase in Revenue Mobilisation for the Purpose of National Development Through Taxation: the Role of the Lawyer”.

The taxman cometh

President Akufo-Addo said that the GRA and the National Identification Authority (NIA), through a joint effort, have discovered that there are roughly 60,000 professionals in Ghana who do not pay any personal taxes at all.

They include lawyers, accountants, doctors, engineers and architects.

“They [the professionals] will soon be receiving friendly phone calls from the tax authority.

“I sincerely hope that those involved will move swiftly to regularise their tax affairs before the GRA moves to crack the wipe,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Attorney General

In his address, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, said that his office is intent on ensuring that the interest of the state is protected at all times.

Referring to the decision of the Kumasi high court dated Friday 30 July 2021 which set aside a judgment entered against the government on 30 July 2020 endorsing the seizure in 2018 of machinery, equipment and monies belonging to Heritage Imperial Company (the plaintiff) by the Taskforce of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on illegal mining, the Attorney General said that despite attacks on him after securing the high court ruling that set aside its own judgment, he will continue to do everything within his power to protect the public purse.

“Insofar as I am Attorney General, the state will zealously protect its interest in litigation just as private legal practitioners protect the interest of their clients. A victory for the state against a private citizen is no justification for unwarranted attacks on public officers responsible for the state’s victory,” he said.

Bar president

The outgoing president of the Bar, Anthony Forson Jnr, in his valedictory address to the Bar conference, said the greatest lesson he has learned while in office is to be humble, to listen and to learn from people from all walks of life.

He urged his successor to ensure that all projects that are yet to be completed are duly executed.

Forson expressed his appreciation to President Akufo-Addo, the former chief justice Sophia Akuffo and the current Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, for the support they gave him during his tenure in office.

“Philippians 4:8: With all humility, may I leave you with my favourite quote from the Bible where Paul says to the Philippians, ‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,’” Forson said.

Wilberforce Asare

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