President Akufo-Addo has backed calls for churches in the country to be taxed, grounding his position on the fact that churches have now moved into the realm of wealth creation and prosperity.
Speaking at the 2018 Synod of the Global Evangelical Church in Accra Thursday, the President observed churches were no more the charity institutions they used to be as they are now focusing into education and healthcare delivery among others, thus placing them in the tax net.
“The difficult truth is that once you get into the wealth and prosperity sphere, you necessarily slip into the tax and accounting line,” Nana Akufo-Addo indicated.
Nana Akufo-Addo observed church priests now “compete to show who is the more powerful and who is the richer,” something he said makes sense for the public to call for them to be taxed.
The President comments come at a time that the Ghana Revenue Authority has taken the decision to tax churches which have turned their fellowships into money-making venture.
On Thursday August 9, Commissioner General of the GRA Kofi Nti said the Authority will soon conduct investigations into activities of all churches in the country with the view to taxing them based on their level of business transactions.
The GRA has offered to pay informants 25 per cent of penalty against the churches that are hiding under fellowship to make money without paying taxes to the state.
The debate about whether churches should be tax by the government has become a controversial subject in the country whose people are seen to be most religious with a dominant Christian population.
Critics have said churches have over the years capitalized on their huge following to make money from their services and other activities.
But some leaders within the Christian fraternity have opposed the idea, arguing aside the church which are registered as charity organisations, all other business making ventures like schools pay tax to the government
“There are increasing calls for churches to be taxed, it is not difficult to see what is driving these calls, for years, and the churches are seen to be leading the drive for development, they built and run schools and hospitals, they led the campaign for sanitation…..” Nana Akufo-Addo noted.
According to him, the public looks on as some of the churches forget about the poor and vulnerable in society and concentrate on being outrageous, instead of taking care of them.
“It is not surprising that there are calls for taxes to be imposed on church income, when you step out of the charity sphere, out of education, out of healthcare; you are putting yourself in the line of the tax sphere,” he suggested.
The President has meanwhile charged the church to work together with government in meeting societal needs.
“It is important we do not debate the principles we purport to uphold. Our country will not make any progress if the church contradict and undermine it by preaching miracles as the answer to our needs.
“Hard work, education and the grace of god are more reliable oaths to riches than miracle,” the President stated.