- On May 28, 2020
Photo: Tax logo
By Miriam Hird-Younger, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto
SEND GHANA works to ensure that the tax systems in Ghana are equitable and fair. From 2017-2019, SEND conducted an initiative to advocate for progressive tax reforms, and to build the understanding of citizens about their responsibility to pay taxes and contribute to national development. The initiative targeted market women, artisans, Persons with Disabilities in micro-enterprises, mother clubs, youth and Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) beneficiaries who form part of the excluded groups. These groups were trained and empowered to advocate for progressive tax reforms to policymakers. These groups also supported their members to understand why and how to pay taxes and the importance of contributing to Ghana’s development through paying taxes.
Deborah Yemoteley and Philomina Ankamafio are cloth traders in the Makola market in Accra. They are informal workers and were selected as beneficiaries of SEND GHANA’s Promoting Progressive Tax for Inclusive Development (PPTID) project. Before joining the project, they thought that taxes were only for parliamentarians, government, and formal workers. They did not understand how national tax systems differed from the tolls they paid for their stalls in the market. They explained that after participating in the tax education “we understood what tax is all about, it is not just for formal workers, but also informal” and that “each and every one of us as a Ghanaian, we have to pay tax.”
As Deborah explains, she sees the importance of paying her small share of tax, because as a citizen, “a little drop of water makes a mighty ocean.”
When officials from the Ghana Revenue Authority came to register market women on the Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), many of the traders were confused, scared, and hesitant to participate. Deborah and Philomina realized that the traders did not understand why they needed the TIN. As leaders in the market who now understood the tax system, they asked the officials to let them explain the tax system to their peers and to assist in the registration. The officials agreed and gave them the required forms. They went about explaining to their peers about the importance of the TIN. Within a few weeks, Deborah and Philomina had registered a staggering 1000 informal workers for their tax numbers.
With support from the STAR-Ghana Foundation, UKaid, DANIDA, and the European Union, the PPTID project is aimed at an improved tax system that supports the socially excluded and micro-enterprises in Ghana.