Ofori-Atta lied when he said 6,000 don’t pay taxes – GBA President

The President of the Ghana Bar Association, Tony Forson, has described as “patently false” claims by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta that some six thousand lawyers in the country do not pay their taxes.

According to Mr Forson, the number of lawyers in the country is just in excess of 3,000 so there is no basis for the comment.

“Unfortunately, a statement was made by the Minister of Finance that over 6,000 lawyers don’t pay tax. That’s very unfortunate because there was no basis for that.”

“Absolutely false, first of all, we don’t have 6,000 lawyers in Ghana, It’s likely in excess of 3,000, so the data is wrong. There are so many lawyers who are in government service who pay tax directly, so the statement is just patently false,” Mr Forson told Francis Abban on the Morning Starr Thursday.

He added: “there are people in private practice who also pay taxes, so the impression given that lawyers don’t pay tax is really unfortunate. But I believe that whoever gave him the information misled him.”

Mr Ofori Atta in August told Accra-based Asaase Radio that “we got about 60,000 businesspeople who were not paying taxes, some 5,000 or 6,000 lawyers are not. Some doctors [are not paying income tax]…so you begin to see all of these professionals, all of us on social media ranting against the government and [realise] that most of these people are not even paying taxes.”

The claim about professionals, including lawyers, not paying taxes, has also been made by the Assistant Commissioner of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Dr Charles Addae.

At a press briefing in Accra on Wednesday, July 28, Dr Addae, said the individuals, aged 35 and 65, “are high potential individuals who have businesses and living within Ghana.”

These high potential individuals include doctors, lawyers, engineers, computer scientists, financial service professionals, executives.

“I am not talking about Greater Accra alone. They have houses in places like East Legon and other affluent areas,” he noted, adding that the culprits are people residing mostly in the top 10 affluent communities of the country.

“However, we have been able to identify their telephone numbers, and they do not have tax identification numbers (TIN) so we are chasing them,” Dr Addae said.

The Assistant Commissioner of GRA also stated that the authority has identified an additional 20,000 Ghanaians of high earning professions who have not registered for their TIN.

He then urged Ghanaians who were yet to file their tax returns to take advantage of the government’s penalty and interest waiver regime to file their taxes to avoid being sanctioned.

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