The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has served notice it will be taxing street beggars as part of moves to widen the tax net.
The exercise will also target individuals, especially women selling Dubai Wax prints and other imports through door-to-door and neighboring nationals trading on bicycles in the Northern region.
The Principal Revenue Chief at the Small Tax Payer Office of the GRA in the Northern region Alhaji Yahaya Mohammed told journalists that some individuals occupying the streets are now harvesting a lot of daily earnings that fall within the tax threshold.
“Those who carry things on their heads to sell (hawkers) be it cloth or consumables, we will tax them, how much more people who earn daily,” the Revenue Officer said.
“GRA taxes foreigners in town and by law the beggars fall within the taxable threshold,” Alhaji Mohammed stressed, adding that those into alms taking as a form of business and a “hobby” should be ready to pay tax on their earnings.Alhaji Yahaya, however, acknowledged the cumbersomeness of the task ahead, but added it was necessary to widen the tax net in order to pluck more revenue.
He said some of the beggars have acquired assets and are making the “begging business” attractive.
“It is difficult to tax them but if they get the understanding that the income that they are earning, they are supposed to pay something to government it will help,” the principal STO revenue officer stated.
The officer could not give an estimate of a daily income of the beggars but strongly believed their earnings were more than enough to be taxed.
Hundreds of people have circled the Tamale Business District begging in the streets and pavements. The individuals mostly the aged are living with disability and are women nursing or nurturing babies.
A large number of these beggars are coming from Mali and Niger who entered into Ghana after fleeing from insecurity and hostile economic conditions.