We recognize the Messianic on taxation.  And Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mathew 22:21). So he came not to render the law truncated, but indeed to fulfil same. Each citizen must obey the law and that includes the Finance Minister, FM.

Over the last few days, there has been a debate on whether or not registration of Tax Identification Number (TIN) by beneficiaries and/or parents should be a requirement for benefitting from the free Senior High School (SHS).

The 1992 Constitution of Ghana per Article 25, provides that all persons shall have the right to free education. This constitutional provision was affirmed in the case of FEDYAG (2) v Public Universities of Ghana [2011] 2 SCGLR 1081, which concluded that education must be free at all levels. However, it is subject to availability of resources, when it comes to secondary and higher education.

Moreover, one of the ways, Governments mobilizes resources for public expenditure is through taxes. Therefore, taxes is seen as the mechanism through which financial resources are raised for public expenditure which includes free SHS. TIN is therefore an important tool to realize taxes.

TIN is a unique numbers for everyone who registers. This unique number is generated by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) offices across Ghana. Section 10 of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) provides that the TIN would be a common numbering system that identifies persons by GRA and other public bodies. This implies that having a TIN is pre-requisite to paying of taxes and thus failing to have a TIN is tantamount to an intent to evade paying taxes. That is criminal, cheating and insulting to the State.

Again, section 11 requires a person to show their TIN in any claim, declaration, notice, return, statement or other document used for the purpose of a tax law.

This provision reading together with the First Schedule of Act 915 shows that a person without a TIN cannot transact business with the following institutions; the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Controller and Accountant General’s Department, the Registrar General’s Department, the Registrar of Co-operatives, Lands Commission, the Immigration Service, the Passport Office, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, the Courts, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, Government, Sub-divisions of Government and Public Institutions not listed above, Persons required to withhold tax under the Income Tax Act, Banks, Insurance Companies and other Financial Institutions, Manufacturing companies and any other institutions or person which the Minister may by Regulations prescribe.

Indeed, paragraph 1(2) of the First Schedule of Act 915, a person without a TIN shall not be permitted to transact business with the institutions mentioned supra.

Therefore the question to answer is: Is SHS a public institution?

Public Institution is not defined by Act 915. But online Law Dictionary defines public institution thus:

The name that is applied to a school, college, courthouse, library, hospital and other place that is run for the public to use. The opposite of a private institution.”

The LexisNexis adds that public institutions are run with public funds and controlled by the State. This definition appears to suggest that all institutions backed by public funds and run and controlled by the State are public institutions. Therefore, SHS backed by public funds, run and controlled by the State, is a public institution. It is therefore safe to conclude that, a person cannot transact business with SHS without a TIN.

In conclusion, the Centre affirms and supports the position of the State to that accessing social services and benefits will require beneficiaries and or their guardians to have a TIN. It is also the view of the Centre that all beneficiaries and or parents without TIN should not benefit and or transact any business with SHS.

The FM position that there is no policy on the issue thus far is not accurate. He must know that the contrary is the case and the policy is by law. Cause no violence to the law, Mr. Minister of Finance. We thus urge you to be law abiding on the TIN for we support the TIN.


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