General News of Wednesday, 3 April 2013
Private legal practitioner, Ace Ankomah has described President Mahama’s filing of his tax returns as a good gesture worthy of emulation by all Ghanaians.
According to Ace, Ghanaians have been demanding infrastructural development from the government but “we should ask ourselves if we are really fulfilling our tax obligations which will give the government the kind of money it requires to meet the various demands.”
President John Mahama filed his tax returns on Tuesday April 2, 2013 at the Kinbu Office of the Domestic Tax Revenue Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority sparking a debate over the significance of the gesture.
However Mr. Ankomah stated that the President was exempted from taxes but could only file tax returns if he was getting income from other sources.
“Not everything the President earns is exempted from taxes. Article 68(5) of the constitution states specifically about the salaries, allowances, facilities, pension and gratuities are exempted from tax; everyone else pays tax…if that is all the income the president earns in the year after review, then he did not need to file returns,” he stated, adding that, “If he has other sources of income, for example, the sale of his books or if he receives gifts then he has to pay taxes on it; it is not exempt. So long as they are personal gifts, he’ll have to pay taxes.”
Speaking on Citi Eyewitness News, Mr. Ankomah also stated that the President can decide to make his tax returns available to the public but there is no general requirement for him or anyone else for that matter to disclose to the world the details of their tax returns.
“The law states that you give it to the commissioner and the commissioner checks and its right, he give it back to you. I am not sure a person’s tax returns constitute public information.”
Meanwhile, information Minister and Media Relations Minister, Mahama Ayariga has said he does not “know of any specific legal position which obliges the President to disclose exactly how much he earns other than the emoluments that get to him as a result of his position.”
“The source of the President’s income is in the records because when you file returns you have to disclose exactly how much and from where the money came from,” he added.
Mr. Ayariga also added that the President’s gesture will propel Ghanaians to follow suit.
“Even though I missed the deadline of March 31st 2013, tomorrow I will be going to the Ghana Revenue Authority to make sure that I declare my income and I can assure you that every appointee of the President will follow suit,” he said.