Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame has told his colleague lawyers their annual tax returns must be commensurate with their earnings.
Speaking at the 2021 Bar Conference in Bolgatanga, Mr Dame said the vigilance of lawyers through the years, which has ensured the protection of human rights and the welfare of society, is similarly required to guarantee the economic development of the country.
In order to achieve that, he advised lawyers to desist from the practice of helping their clients to avoid or evade taxes and also take up the personal responsibility of leading by example.
“Many lawyers are caught in the phenomenon of tax evasion as they unjustifiably avoid being caught in the tax net, either by understating their profits or concealing their true income.
“The luxurious lifestyles of lawyers, riding in the most plush of vehicles and acquiring top-end property, are hardly commensurate with the amount of taxes they pay. I entreat lawyers to honour the fullest of their tax obligations as, not doing so, is not only criminal, but borders on a gross violation of professional rules,” he said.
The Attorney General opined that lawyers, who aid their clients to evade taxes, are being disloyal to the state and have neglected their professional ethos of being watchdogs of the state.
He suggested to the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) to make the fulfilment of annual tax obligations a requirement for lawyers to be in good standing.
President Nana Akufo-Addo, himself a lawyer, who was the Guest of Honour at the Bar Conference, described the phenomenon of lawyers not paying taxes as embarrassing for the profession.
He explained that “lawyers use their knowledge of the law to deliberately avoid paying taxes.”
He, however, said by tackling the issue of taxation, the Bar is demonstrating courage. He equated this year’s conference to previous editions that confronted major political issues in the history of Ghana.
The 2021 Bar Conference, the highlight of activities of the Bar every year, is being held under the theme, ‘Ensuring an increase in revenue mobilisation through taxation for the purpose of accelerated national development: The role of the Lawyer.’
Speakers at the opening of the conference included Chief Justice Anin Yeboah and the outgoing President of the Ghana Bar Association, Anthony Forson Esq.